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NZ trainer leaves sick bed for Plate bid

Savvy Coup
Savvy Coup will contest the Cox Plate with trainer Michael Pitman leaving hospital to be trackside.

New Zealand trainer Michael Pitman has been given the green light to leave his hospital bed and fly to Melbourne to watch Savvy Coup run in the Cox Plate.

Pitman had surgery in a Christchurch hospital for bowel cancer on Monday but is desperate to get to Moonee Valley on Saturday to see the new Zealand Oaks winner take on Winx.

“I get out of the hospital this afternoon and I’m on a flight first thing tomorrow morning,” Pitman told NZ Racing Desk on Thursday.

“I’m not sure whether it’s the right thing to be doing but that’s what I’m doing. I’ve just got to take it easy and pace myself a bit, but I’ll be right.

“It’s an opportunity not to be missed. It’s just massive.

“They kept me in on purpose for an extra couple of days just to make sure that I was OK and all my vital signs were good, and they are.”

The trainer is realistic about Savvy Coup’s chances but wants to be there all the same.

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“Honestly a pass mark would be running fifth,” he said.

“All up it cost about $A65,000 for acceptances. Fifth money is $A200,000, sixth and seventh is $A100,000 and eighth is $A75,000.

“For a broodmare prospect, it would be massive if she could run second or third in a Cox Plate.

“We’re going into it eyes wide open and this isn’t really our grand finale because we were always going across for either the MacKinnon Stakes or the Matriarch Stakes and it just so happens that the perfect lead-in race happens to be a 2000-metre race at Moonee Valley two weeks before which is the one we are contesting.”

His illness aside, Pitman retains the competitive nature that has taken him to three NZ premierships.

“I wouldn’t be embarrassed to beat Winx,” he said. “I know it won’t happen but you do think about it and man I’d love to beat Winx, of course I would. You would never be forgotten in the history of the game.”

Pitman’s training partner Matthew will accompany him to Melbourne while his wife Diane will return home to look after the team running at Riccarton on Saturday.

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