Three-year-olds sold, but Pitmans still potent

Savvy Lad
Savvy Lad (outside) has been sold to Australia. Photo: Race Images South

A longshot winner at the popular Cromwell meeting on Sunday has Riccarton trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman ready to climb further up the New Zealand Trainers’ Premiership ladder despite the sale of two of their most promising three-year-olds, Savvy Lad and Chuck A Luck.

Mr Typhon won a Rating 82 1220m at odds of 42/1, a price which surprised Michael Pitman after rating the seven-year-old a big chance ahead of the race. “He’s an enigmatic character, but he got a genuine dry track and I was confident he would go close, despite his (poor) recent form,” Pitman said. “He was schooled over a few fences on Friday and that really woke him up. “I’ve had a few calls since he won from people who backed him after seeing our Facebook page.”

The Pitmans had a team at Cromwell and will be back again next year for the meeting. “It’s always a great family day at Cromwell and it was massive again with a crowd of 5000 to 6000 people,” Pitman said. ‘It could be even bigger next year because there’s talk of staging an open air concert on the Friday night leading into the meeting. “Racing needs meetings like this one. They get the families along.”

Mr Typhon’s win was the 14th for the season for the Pitmans and put the father and son partnership into seventh on the New Zealand Trainers’ Premiership and within striking distance of the three stables above them with just a win separating each one.

However, the Pitmans will have to improve their spot without the services of Savvy Lad and Chuck A Luck, who were both stable hopefuls for the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on February 29. The pair have been sold to clients of former Kiwi trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young and flew out of Christchurch last Friday bound for the couple’s Cranbourne stable.

“I plan to take a team to Australia in the autumn going to Melbourne then on to Adelaide and they were going to be two of them,” Pitman said. “Savvy Lad is a really talented horse and he has been bought to run in the ATC Derby (Group 1, 2400m) at Randwick,” Pitman said. “When I got him I thought he’d run a mile and a half (2400m), but he’s so brilliant over 1400m so it’ll be interesting now to see if he stays that far. “When he won last start at Riccarton he ran the fastest last 600m of the day (33.05), quicker than the Stewards winner, and he carried 57.5 kg and cruised home. “And when he won his maiden the start before it was the quickest time by a maiden over 1400m (1.22.1) in the last four years.”

The son of Savabeel has had four starts and preceded his two wins at the New Zealand Cup meeting with two seconds, while Chuck A Luck has won one of his eight starts and been placed on three occasions, including a second to Sherwood Forest in the Group 3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton in October.

Chuck A Luck met Sherwood Forest again last start in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton and finished sixth, just over six lengths from the exciting winner Catalyst and three placings behind Sherwood Forest. “I think Chuck A Luck will make a grouse staying three-year-old,” Pitman said. “He’ll run 2000m and further on his ear and he will benefit from another six months.”

The Pitmans have been left with just one of their original three New Zealand Derby entrants, the unraced Zakunda, a son of Reliable Man who has had two trials for a third (to stablemate Okay Pal at Ashburton in September). “He’s set to trial next week and he’s a lovely horse who is going to want ground,” Pitman said. ‘He’s out of (Zaria) a stakes-placed Zabeel sister to a top filly (Zagalia), who won the Queensland Oaks (Group 1, 2400m) and was fourth in the Cox Plate (Group 1, 2040m).”

Pitman also has high hopes for Okay Pal, a Dissident gelding who was a debut winner and has had a vet problem in his other two starts, and Golden Harvest, who was sixth on debut at Riccarton after winning both his trials. “Okay Pal fibrillated last start and is out spelling, but I do believe he is the best young one I’ve got,” Pitman said. “He’ll go to Dunedin (Wingatui) for a three-year-old 1200m on Boxing Day. “Golden Harvest is also really promising and will also possibly go for the same meeting.”

Pitman is a fan of the Wingatui Boxing Day meeting and plans to have a big team heading to the fixture, including his top sprinters Sensei and Enzo’s Lad. “The last three Telegraph (Group 1, 1200m) winners (including Signify in 2017) have all used the open sprint at Dunedin as a lead-up,” Pitman said. “I did originally nominate Sensei for the Railway (Group 1, 1200m) at Ellerslie, but I ruled it out to concentrate on getting to the Telegraph and the way to get there is proven as far as I’m concerned, through the Dunedin sprint.”