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Pitman’s hold a strong hand at Riccarton

Father and son training duo Michael and Matthew Pitman will begin what will be a massive New Zealand Cup week at Riccarton on Saturday.

They have 16 horses entered for the first day of the carnival and they expect to feature prominently with a number of their runners.

The Riccarton trainers are looking forward to the resumption of Group One performer Sensei , who will contest the Listed Yesberg Insurance Service Pegasus Stakes (1000m) alongside stablemate Exemplar.

The Pitman's are happy with the progress of the five-year-old entire and they expect a bold showing from him.

"We gave him a decent spell and he came back into work in June and we have quietly built up his fitness," Matthew Pitman said.

"We were really happy with the way he trialled a couple of weeks back and his work has been pretty exceptional since then.

"He will improve with the run, but fresh-up over 5 f he will be right in it."

The son of Dream Ahead won the Listed Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) in last year's carnival, but a wet forecast for Christchurch next week has the local trainers reassessing their plans.

"It was a race that we had targeted with him," Pitman said. "But with the wet track predicted on Wednesday, he might end up avoiding there.

"If that is the case then we will possibly target the stakes race at Dunedin (Listed Hazlett Stakes, 6 f) on Boxing Day with a view to having another crack at the Telegraph (Gr.1, 6 f) with him."

Pitman will also have a pair of contenders who will be vying to dethrone star three-year-old Catalyst in the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).

He was pleased with Chuck A Luck and All About Magic's placings in the Gr.3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) last start and he believes they are both a chance of featuring in the finish.

"We are really happy with them," he said. "They meet a very good one in Catalyst and all the northern raiders have come down.

"Both of their runs were exceptional the other day at Riccarton. All About Magic came from last and had to come around every horse and flew home late to finish third. She also gets that fillies weight relief in the race.

"If they can run up to that form then we expect them to be right in it."

All going to plan after Saturday's run, All About Magic will back-up a week later to contest the Gr.1 gavelhouse.com New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m).

"We have had a lot of success in the past when backing horses up around Cup week," Pitman said.

"We utilise all the things we have at hand, like the beach and pool, and our horses seem to back up no worries."

While Pitman has a number of chances in stakes races, he is looking forward to watching a couple of their stablemates line-up on Saturday.

"Savvy Lad is another horse we have a massive opinion of," he said. "He's been under offer before, but as it has worked out we have still got the horse in our hands.

"He is a real Derby prospect. He is by Savabeel and I think the step up to 7 f will be ideal for him. We expect him to go close to winning on Saturday.

"Nellie Bly is a horse that has been knocking on the door for a while now and probably deserves her turn also. 

"We have got a pretty good team across the board this week and hopefully we can get a dry Cup Week and a successful Cup week."

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