Big mile too close to call

The Press - - Racing - MAT KERMEEN

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).

PHOTO: RACE IM­AGES

Son Of Ma­her and Shad­ows Cast could not be sep­a­rated in the Cou­p­land’s Bak­eries Mile.

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