The occasion surrounding the Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) with glamour mare Winx got too much for Kiwi galloper Savvy Coup according to her connections, but they believe she is primed to contest her major Melbourne target on Saturday, the Gr.2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
The Kiwi mare pulled hard throughout the Moonee Valley feature a fortnight ago and Michael Pitman, who trains the mare in partnership with his son Matthew, was happy enough with the run despite the circumstances.
“She just lost the plot (in the Cox Plate),” he said. “She was quiet and very settled out the back, but as soon as she got into the parade ring she just lost it. She pulled hard in the prelim, she got bumped a couple of times by Winx and she just over-raced and ran herself into the ground really.
“She normally just settles out the back and relaxes up. She gets keen, but Michael McNab and Chris Johnson have ridden her most of the time and they have never said it has been an issue, but the other day she just got right up on the steel behind the pace and I thought it was an outstanding run to finish as close as she did.”
Pitman is happy with the way his four-year-old mare has pulled up after the Cox Plate and said she has been working well heading into Saturday’s contest.
“We think she has improved since the Cox Plate, which was always going to be the case because I’ve quite openly stated that the Cox Plate wasn’t her grand finale, it just happened that it was a suitable race to use to lead into the Matriarch,” Pitman said.
“She worked really good on Tuesday and she’s come through the race really well.”
Savvy Coup has drawn the outside barrier in the 15 horse field, but that poses no concern for Pitman who is confident with the mare who is a $7.50 equal second-favourite for the race with TAB bookmakers.
“I’d rather draw there than the inside because Flemington has had plenty of racing on it and the fence might be a bit off I would imagine. It has had three days of racing on it already this week,” Pitman said.
“She has drawn wide plenty of times, she drew wide in the Oaks and the Livamol and Chris (Johnson, jockey) will work it out.
“I’ve been in Australia enough times, I’ve won 20-odd races there, to know that if you’re in the market you’re a chance.
“She was a 60-1 shot in the Cox Plate and ran accordingly, but this week she is second favourite in the Matriarch.”
Although Pitman, who is battling bowel cancer, was able to make it to Melbourne for the Cox Plate, he won’t be oncourse at Flemington on Saturday as he is currently in hospital after complications relating to his illness.
“I’m currently in hospital and I’m going to be here possibly for another week,” he said. “I’ve got a problem with what they call a collection area in the pelvis, which is getting treated twice a day with antibiotics.”
His stay in hospital will also mean that he will be unable to attend races on his hometrack of Riccarton on Saturday, where his stable will line-up 20 runners, including three in the Listed Yesberg Insurance Services Pegasus Stakes Handicap (1000m).
The Pitman stable holds a strong hand in the race with last-start winner Morse Code and stakes-placed gelding Mr Typhoon, but Pitman has labelled four-year-old entire Sensei as his best chance.
“If it was a dry track I would expect Sensei to win it,” he said. “He’s been aimed at this race this prep and he’ll probably only have one run between Saturday and the Telegraph.
“But if it comes up wet or the track is over irrigated like it was last-start he’ll probably struggle. He wants a genuine firm track. I just hope we get a genuine summer track for the summer horses.”