The connections of Enzo’s Lad (Testa Rossa) have set their sights on a new target for their talented sprinter.
The dual Group One winner will step up to 1400m for the first time when he contests the Listed Speight’s Timaru Stakes at Riccarton on Saturday.
Enzo’s Lad is fresh off a runner-up performance behind Avantage (Fastnet Rock) in Saturday’s Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham, a short neck away from joining Blazer and Blue Blood (NZ) (Copenhagen II) as three time winners of the race.
“We were super happy with him,” said Matthew Pitman, who trains the gelding in partnership with his father Michael.
“It was a pretty rough run race and things didn’t quite go according to plan, so Michael McNab (jockey) went to plan b and took off and almost stole the race.
“Going to the front like that is probably not his go, but it was an extremely tough effort and one that we are very proud of and he almost pulled off a three-peat.”
Trentham has become a home away from home for the Pitmans in the north who said Enzo’s Lad appreciated the track conditions on Saturday.
“He just seems to thrive every time he goes up there. It’s just what he is like when he gets back to a good track, he looks after himself and his form doesn’t look that good when he keeps striking wet tracks, but when he gets a genuine good track he is right in it.”
Enzo’s Lad has returned south and will have one final gallop on Thursday morning to assess his recovery ahead of Saturday.
“He will have a run along on Thursday morning just to make sure he has pulled up fine,” Pitman said.
“He is one of the most well-travelled horses in New Zealand and he is a good doer that eats up every time.
“He has done well since the Group One and if he seems alright tomorrow he will back-up in the Timaru Stakes.”
The son of Testa Rossa will carry 60kg from barrier five on Saturday, 5.5kg more than his closest rival, but Pitman isn’t overly perturbed by the weight disparity.
“He has carried 58kg to win a Telegraph and was giving horses like Melody Belle and Volpe Veloce two or three kilos and he won that day,” he said.
“He has always been able to carry weight well, but stepping up to 1400m for the first time is a bit of a question.”
Saturday will be a litmus test to see if he can handle the step-up in distance and if he does another trip north is in the offing.
“The owners are keen to give the Waikato Sprint (Gr.1, 1400m) some consideration, as are we,” Pitman said.
“We realise there are a couple of good ones who are potentially going there, but we will look at 1400m this weekend and see how he handles it and then weigh up our options.”
A trip across the Tasman and a return to Trentham are also possibilities in autumn.
“We are pretty interested in taking a team to Melbourne or Adelaide in the autumn and that is still on the cards and there is also the Lightning Handicap (Listed, 1200m) on Oaks day back at Trentham, which is his favourite trip.”
Meanwhile, Pitman is looking forward to the debut of juveniles In Heaven (No Nay Never) and Impecunious (NZ) (Sacred Falls) when they line-up in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Two-Year-Old (800m) at Riccarton on Saturday.
“We have got two two-year-olds in that we have got really high opinions of,” Pitman said.
“In Heaven has had one trial for a win. He is in the Enzo’s Lad/Sensei mould. He has really impressed us from word go. He is a big, strong type and I think he could be in our next wave of topline sprinters if he lives up to his potential.
“Impecunious in the same race is a well-bred filly who although is not quite as forward as In Heaven has stacks of ability as well.
“We think we have got a one-two punch in the two-year-old race that should be hard to beat.”
Further north father Michael Pitman is overseeing final preparations for the Karaka Million 2YO (1600m) with $26 chance Lovebug (NZ) (Iffraaj).