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Savvy trainer taking positive approach

4 min read

While most trainers are fearful of the shadow cast by the peerless Winx (AUS) (Street Cry {IRE}), Michael Pitman sees it in a more positive light. The Riccarton horseman has never been afraid to back himself and a meeting with the champion Australian mare sits at the top of his wish list for his stable star Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel {AUS}).

"We’re keen to go over even if Winx is there. She might frighten a few off and you never know what can happen.” Michael Pitman

“We’ve nominated her for the Cox Plate, that may be pipe dream stuff but you have to have a plan,” he said. “If her form at Hawke’s Bay warrants it, we’re keen to go over even if Winx is there. She might frighten a few off and you never know what can happen.”

Guineas side-step

Pitman’s glass half-full approach was well illustrated when he made the bold decision to bypass last season’s G1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas with Savvy Coup. She had won her two starts before the classic by wide margins, but Pitman was looking further ahead.

“I always thought she was an Oaks filly and the other owners didn’t question my decision,” he said. “Fortunately, it turned out to be the right one.”

“I always thought she was an Oaks filly and the other owners didn’t question my decision. Fortunately, it turned out to be the right one.” – Michael Pitman.

Savvy Coup reigned supreme in the Oaks for Pitman, who trains in partnership with his son Matthew, and she subsequently finished a respectable fifth in the G1 Australian Oaks behind Unforgotten (Fastnet Rock). “She spelled tremendously well and she’s really strengthened up,” he said. “She’s grown a bit too and she’s got the same good attitude. She’s a great competitor.”

WATCH: Savvy Coup wins the 2018 G1 New Zealand Oaks

Triple Crown on cards

The more immediate focus for the four-year-old is the Triple Crown series at Hawke’s Bay and the intention is for her, and stablemate Son Of Maher (Al Maher), to compete in all three features. “They’ll go fresh-up into the Tarzino Trophy, we’re not great trial trainers and we’ll get them ready at home.

“We’re really happy with both of them and they’ve been working well together. We’ll send them up on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the Tarzino and then come home. We’ll go back for the Windsor Park Plate and then stay up there for the Livamol Classic.”

Savvy Coup pictured as a yearling

Bred by Waikato Stud, Savvy Coup was purchased for $65,000 at Karaka in 2016 and is out of Eudora (NZ) (Pins). Unraced after losing an eye in a paddock accident as a youngster, she is a sister to the G2 Thousand Guineas Prelude winner Legless Veuve (NZ) and to Tootsie (NZ), who won the G3 Mannerism S. Her first foal is the dual Group 2 winner Ocean Emperor (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}), who will oppose Savvy Coup in the Tarzino Trophy.

Pitman also has a blood sister to Savvy Coup in his yard. “We paid $100,000 for her and she’ll be raced by Ray and Jill Coupland, Jim Bruford and Mark Chittick (of Waikato Stud) who has stayed in for 25 per cent,” Pitman said. “She’s a lovely filly and broke in really well. She’s very similar to Savvy Coup and possibly a little bit more forward as a 2-year-old than Savvy Coup was.”

She is out of a sister to Eudora, whose colt went to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for $500,000 at Karaka earlier this year, who is due to foal to Rock ‘n’ Pop (Fastnet Rock) next month and will then return to Savabeel.