Local trainers Michael and Matthew Pitman are hoping they can put some breathing room between themselves and Andrew Carston in the race to the South Island Trainers’ Premiership when they head to Riccarton’s synthetic meeting on Thursday.
“We are one in front of Andrew Carston, but whether we can stay there is another thing,” Michael Pitman said.
“We are both doing our best to try and win the South Island premiership.”
The father-and-son duo will take a team of nine to the meeting and Pitman believes their best chance of the day could be in the opening race, the Riccarton Park Function Centre Maiden (1200m), with Russian Rosette.
“She ran second to Watch Out last start,” he said.
“The form is good and she is going to be the horse to beat. She has drawn well (4) and it is only a small field.
“She went well the other day and the poly won’t be any worry for her.”
Pitman also has high expectations with fellow last start placegetter Lady Incanto in the Speight’s Summit Ultra On Tap Maiden (1400m).
“Lady Incanto went massive the other day,” Pitman said. “She was three wide on the pace and ran third over 1200m.
“She steps up to 1400m where she has had one start for a placing. Joe Kamaruddin rides her and she will be a huge chance.”
Stablemate Tavanassia has been a perennial groomsman, placing in his last four starts, and his connections are hopeful he can break through for his maiden win in the Book A Suite Mid-Winter Xmas Races 24 June Maiden (1600m).
“He is inclined to over-race,” Pitman said. “We had a good talk with Joe (Kamaruddin) and he is coming back to ride him again. We think dropping back to the mile wouldn’t be a silly thing. He will relax better and hopefully find the line better.”
Pitman also touched on the chances of Fireglow in the Racecourse Hotel & Motor Lodge (1600m), Bella Rose in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series (1600m), and Sharpie in the Grand National Tickets On Sale Now (1200m).
“Forget Bella Rose’s last start,” he said. “She got bowled over at the start, like about six or seven of them did. She ranged up and then battled a bit.
“It is a Pearl Series bonus race with $10,000 extra to the winner if you can win it. You have got to have a crack. She has drawn well and Kozzi Asano will ride, so we are not lacking for a horseman on top. She will be a chance because she is so genuine.
Fireglow has drawn a fraction awkward (9). He will probably go back and look for cover rather than going hard early. He used to race better when he was ridden quietly, so that is what we are probably going to do tomorrow.
“Sharpie is an above average horse that hasn’t had a lot of luck. He seems to have come up well. He has had four cracks at 1200m and has never run in the money, but I think he will go a good race tomorrow.”
Pitman said Riccarton’s synthetic track has been a godsend to the region over the winter months and he is hoping the stable can extend their winning record on the surface on Thursday.
“In the winter, when we get a bit of moisture, the polytrack gets better because it firms up a bit,” he said.
“It is a far better track when it is like that. It is like the beach. The best part of the beach is where the tide comes in and out, it is the firmest and most consistent.
“We have trained 14 winners on the polytrack already, so it shows it suits our team.