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Pitman plans hospital dash for Cox Plate

3 min read

Three days' out from his star mare Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel) taking on Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) and co in the G1 Cox Plate, trainer Michael Pitman is in a hospital bed in New Zealand.

But come Saturday, it would be no surprise to see Pitman trackside at Moonee Valley to cheer Savvy Coup's attempt at thwarting history.

"It would be the best moment in my life I reckon." - Michael Pitman on being able to see Savvy Coup take on Winx

"To stand there with my son (co-trainer Matthew) in the birdcage would be massive. It would be absolutely massive," he told RSN's Racing Pulse.

"It would be the best moment in my life I reckon."

Michael Pitman

Less than a year ago, Pitman, was diagnosed with bowel cancer and an ill-timed complication has thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to his Cox Plate plans.

"Going back to November, I had a great cup carnival, which was just our local carnival, and I should have come through it bouncing off the walls, but I didn't feel too flash," he explained.

"I got through Christmas time and won a lot of races and at the cup meeting at Wellington we had another great carnival there, but I wasn't feeling that good so I went to the doctors and took a blood test and as I am walking out the door, they said to take a colonoscopy and it showed I had quite a mass lump of cancer."

After radiation and chemotherapy, it was decided Pitman would need to have surgery. The day of the operation was set for two days after Savvy Coup won the G1 Livamol Classic earlier this month, booking her spot in the Cox Plate.

"But I feel good. Let me out of here." - Michael Pitman

Michael Pitman with his son and co-trainer, Matthew

"I was at the hospital on the Monday morning and had a seven-and-a-half-hour operation. It was supposed to be five but the situation where the cancer was that it took a lot longer to cut it out," he said.

"Then, last Sunday, I had further complications with an infection in my pelvis, which they cleared up."

"But I feel good. Let me out of here," he said.

It’s remarkable that anyone who has had two surgeries in three weeks on top of a cancer diagnosis would even contemplate about leaving their bed, let alone hopping on a plane to Melbourne.

But seeing his mare contest Australia's greatest weight-for-age race as his old mate Chris Waller attempts to win the race for a fourth straight year is something he just doesn’t want to miss.

"Chris (Waller) and I have been friends for a long time and the two owners that I train the horse for, they are two of my best owners and have been with me a long time and we're great friends," Pitman said.

"The surgeon I've got, he's known all the way through what I wanted to do. Where there's a will there is a way and I've certainly got the will."

And if he does get there, he has the confidence that Savvy Coup is not there just to make up the numbers.

"She's flying, she's going really well," he said. "I know time only matters if you are sitting in jail, or in my case sitting in hospital, but she has run some really good times."