Trainer Michael Pitman was bursting with pride after his class sprinter Enzo’s Lad went within a short neck of tearing off his third consecutive victory in the time-honoured Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on Saturday.
Bidding to become just the third horse to achieve the feat in the 121-year history of the race and the first since Blue Blood in 1975-77, Enzo’s Lad had to bow to Matamata mare Avantage who triumphed after the pair waged war over the final 300m of the race. Pitman was left rueing a crucial check Enzo’s Lad suffered during the mid-stages that changed the complexion of the race from there on. “He went super didn’t he, just everything we could have asked for,” Pitman said.
“He didn’t get any favours during the race and when he got shunted out five-wide after 600m it probably cost him the win. “Take nothing away from the mare as she is class and deserved the victory but Michael (McNab) had to take him forward when he copped that bump and ended up in front much earlier than we had anticipated. “He was a sitting duck then but he fought right to the line and there wasn’t much in it at the finish.”
Enzo’s Lad and stablemate Sensei, who finished well back after getting too far off the lead in the early stages, will now travel home to Riccarton with Pitman in two minds as to where to go next with Enzo’s Lad who is at the top of the handicap through his form over the past two seasons. “We have been considering taking him to Te Rapa for the BCD Sprint (Group 1, 1400m) next month but I’m just not that sure at this stage as the field might come up a bit too tough,” he said. “There is the Lightning (Listed, 1200m) back at Trentham on Oaks Day in March which we will look at or there is also a nice race for him at Dunedin next month so we do have some options.”
While he and son Matthew’s Trentham team are heading home, Pitman is bound for Hamilton on Monday to put the finishing touches on his Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) candidate Lovebug who travelled up to Graeme and Debbie Rogerson’s Tuhikaramea base over the weekend.
The Iffraaj filly will be Pitman’s sole representative in the race after Ohio Showgirl suffered a knee injury that was operated on during the week. “Ohio Showgirl had a knee fracture operated on and is in the paddock so Lovebug will be our representative at Ellerslie,” Pitman said. “She has travelled up to the Rogerson property in Hamilton and I’m going up on Monday to spend the week with her.
“She was going to have a gallop at Ellerslie on Tuesday but they moved those to Monday which is too tough on her after the trip north, so we won’t get to have a look at the track until raceday. “She has been at Trentham with our other horses for the past week and has galloped right-handed a few times and handled it well so I’m not overly worried about that aspect for her. “She is a lovely filly and we hope she can acquit herself well for her owners who are a great bunch of people.”
Pitman purchased Lovebug for $20,000 from the Haunui Farm draft during Book 2 at Karaka last year. Haunui Farm will offer her half-brother by first season sire Belardo during the Book 2 session at the National Yearling Sale series that kicks off at Karaka on January 26.