Enzo’s Lad will attempt to become the third horse in history to win three Gr.1 Telegraph’s (1200m) at Trentham on Saturday.
The son of Testa Rossa has won the last two editions of the JR & N Berkett-sponsored race and trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman are hopeful of adding to that tally this weekend.
“It’s going to be a good field as per usual and hopefully he will be cherry ripe by Saturday,” Michael Ptiman said.
“When he won it the first year I don’t think he got the credit he deserved.
“The second time around proved that it wasn’t a fluke. If he won it three years in a row it would be a massive effort.”
Since last year’s victory, Enzo’s Lad has collected a few frequent flyer points, having campaigned in both Hong Kong and the United Kingdom at the famed Royal Ascot meeting.
Enzo’s Lad finished unplaced in all three runs and Pitman said signs of the travel are still showing on the seven-year-old.
“He’s been hanging on to a winter coat, which sounds strange given we are in the middle of summer, but when we got to England he had grown a winter coat leading into their summer, so we had to clip him.
“While he has been hanging on to his winter coat I have seen a lot of improvement in the last fortnight.”
Although Enzo’s Lad has tailed the field home in two of his three starts back in New Zealand this term, Pitman said he needs firm ground in order to produce his best effort.
Pitman has taken a different approach with Enzo’s Lad this year, electing to bring him north a week before his Wellington assignment.
“He is up here (Trentham) at the moment,” Pitman said. “We have done things a bit different because he is an older horse. I brought him up with the horses we raced on the first day just to do something different with him.
“We are really happy with the horse.”
The Riccarton conditioners will also contest the race with fellow sprinter Sensei who dead-heated for third in last year’s Telegraph.
“Sensei is an extremely good galloper, he’s probably the fastest horse we have had anything to do with,” Pitman said.
“Last year he drew near enough the outside barrier. His run the other day (finishing third in the Hazlett Stakes) was first-class.
“He’s a duffer on a wet track, but he managed to run third at Dunedin and went absolutely super.”
The Dream Ahead gelding will go into Saturday in good form, having won the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) and finished runner-up in the Gr.3 Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m).
“Sensei is going really well, we are really happy with him, but he will also need to have a firm track,” Pitman said.
“He is a top-class horse, but the weight-for-age probably doesn’t suit him as much as it does Enzo’s Lad.”
Sam Weatherley has been booked to ride Sensei, while Michael McNab will be reunited with Enzo’s Lad.
Sensei is currently at $10 on the TAB’s Telegraph futures market, while Enzo’s Lad is at $21 behind race favourite Avantage at $4.