Horse Racing: Trainer Michael Pitman battles cancer to realise dream

Just days after one of his biggest ever wins on the track, Christchurch horse trainer Michael Pitman is facing his biggest fight off it.

On Monday, he underwent surgery, as he battles bowel cancer.

He's in a race of his own to be on course for one of the proudest moments of his career.

"It's hard when a loved one like that has such a big procedure, so we are playing the waiting game at the moment," says son Matt Pitman.

On Saturday, Pitman senior could barely contain himself, as star galloper Savvy Coup cruised to victory in the Group 1 Livamol Classic in Hastings.

Savvy Coup
Savvy Coup wins the Livamol Classic. Photo credit: Trackside.

"Big thrill this, I will tell ya," he celebrated afterwards. "I don't think I've ever raced in a more important race in my life.

"I'm having an operation Monday and I've said along the way, if we win the Livamol, we are going to the Cox Plate."

"I was back here in Christchurch watching and it did bring a tear to my eye, seeing how happy dad was," says Matt Pitman. 

Michael Pitman
Michael Pitman celebrates Savvy Coup's win. Photo credit: Trackside.

In the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley at the end of the month, Savvy Coup will line up against the world's best horse - Aussie champion Winx, who notched up her 28th straight win at Saturday's Turnbull Stakes.

"I might not get there myself, but the horse will," insists Michael Pitman.

Says Matt: "We haven't had a runner in the Cox Plate before and she certainly warrants being there.

"We have to keep that trans-Tasman rivalry going. I'm not saying we are going to beat her, but we'll give it our biggest crack."

And that's the Pitman approach - in racing, as well as life.  


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