Big mile too close to call
In the public stand, Michael Pitman was thinking he had won. Less than a pitching wedge away in front of the members stand, Mark Oulaghan was sure he was second.
Turns out, they were both wrong. The result of the 13th Group II $230,000 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton on Wednesday was a dead heat. Son Of Maher and Shadows Cast were forced to share the spoils.
Oddly enough, as Pitman and Oulaghan were watching the replay, Pitman thought he had run second and Oulaghan thought he may have won.
The result means the two horses were separated by less than one-thousandth of a second at the winning post.
Before judge Mark Gallagher announced the result, no neutral observers in the birdcage were willing to declare a winner.
Complicating the view of the finish was the fact that Shadows Cast was in front but Son Of Maher was driving at him with the momentum on his side.
Neither group of owners knew whether to head to the winners dais or not.
However, but both parties were accepting of the result and could see the humorous side to the dilemma.
A Group II win is a Group II win whether you share it or not.
Pitman, who trains in partnership with his son Matt, said he would have loved to win the race outright but the result was fitting.
‘‘I’m thrilled to win it. I class it as a win,’’ Pitman said.
He was especially pleased for part owner of Son Of Maher, Ray Coupland, who has played such a massive role in getting the race off the ground and supporting it through its 13-year history.
Also in the ownership of the five-year-old Al Maher gelding is former Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum.
For Oulaghan, a man best known for training winners over jumps at the Grand National Carnival at Riccarton, the win was his best flat race success at Riccarton.
Matt Pitman said it was an honour to share a race win with a trainer of Oulaghan’s stature.
As tough as the Awapuni trainer’s Per Incanto five-year-old gelding was, it seems inevitable that Son Of Maher would have won had Chris Johnson been able to find clear air earlier.
Johnson, who had Son Of Maher tucked in behind the front runners after settling back on the rail, was desperate for a gap to open up but it did not come until the 100-metre mark.
But Michael Pitman said there will be plenty more opportunities for Son Of Maher to deliver on the potential he and his son believe the Group I placegetter is capable of.
‘‘I know how good my horse is and he’s about to prove it to the public,’’ Pitman said. Where and when he will get the chance to do that is still to be planned but Pitman said there are plenty of Group I options going forward.
‘‘For this horse to do this third up after being gelded is a massive effort,’’ he said.
The Cup week success of the Pitman partnership has continued on day two of the carnival with another three-win day on Wednesday taking their total to six victories with a day to go.
Three-year-old filly Pipiana broke maidens in the opening race and Oaks-bound filly Savvy Coup never got out of second gear when she jogged to a three and a halflength victory in the 3-year-old premier (1400m).
Son Of Maher and Shadows Cast could not be separated in the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile.