Despite fighting the after-effects of a 30-hour travel schedule during his return to New Zealand from the United Kingdom, leading South Island trainer Michael Pitman is still buzzing about his experiences over the past two months.
Pitman and the owners of sprinter Enzo’s Lad took on the best the world has to offer with a three race campaign that began in Hong Kong with the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint (1200m) and then moved to the famous Royal Ascot carnival in England where they tackled the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m).
Whilst a wet track and other circumstances didn’t favour Enzo’s Lad in any of the three events, Pitman is eternally grateful for the opportunity to experience the magnificence of the Royal Ascot carnival.
“It may be a cliché but we have just had an experience that money just can’t buy,” Pitman said.
“We’re not making any excuses for how our horse performed but the whole thing was simply more than just a horse race.
“We got to see racing at its very best and I’m delighted that the people who own Enzo’s Lad got to be such a part of that as it was simply amazing.”
Of the many highlights for Pitman it was the treatment that he and the owners of Enzo’s Lad were met with that stands out the most for him.
“You just couldn’t ask for better treatment,” he said.
“From the time we left for Hong Kong and then made our way over to the UK we were treated to the very best that there was to offer.
“We stayed with a number of the other international horses at Jane Chapple-Hyam’s property which was just first-class.
“It was fantastic to see those horses and how they operate and I have definitely picked up some practices that I will be implementing back here at home.
“Interestingly, while Enzo’s Lad didn’t manage to put his best on the track, every horse he worked with at Jane’s came out and won their next start.”
Pitman also admitted he had his breath taken away at times with the action both on and off the track at Royal Ascot.
“Without a doubt I think I saw the world’s best sprinter in Blue Point and the staying equivalent in Stradivarius,” he said.
“Blue Point won both of the races we ran in and he was simply magnificent while Stradivarius won his second Ascot Gold Cup (Gr.1, 4014m) with Frankie Dettori on board.
“Taking nothing away from those racetrack performances, the hospitality we received was also out of this world.
“On the days where we raced, we had our own VIP corporate box for our personal use while we also were given access to the official hospitality enclosure on the other days we went.
“I got to meet the Queen and spent 20 minutes with her which was just amazing and something I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to do.
“It was all a little overwhelming at times but they are memories I will treasure and never forget.