Weather deals blow to Pitman's title bid

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 07:47 20/06/2013
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FRUSTRATED: Leading trainer Michael Pitman has been dealt a blow for his push in the national premiership.

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The cancellation of two galloping meetings in the South Island has done nothing to help the cause of leading trainer Michael Pitman as he strives for success on the national premiership.

Pitman, who holds a lead of nine wins over his nearest rival, Lisa Latta, looked set to add considerably to his tally this week but will have to watch Latta's progress in the North Island instead while his runners remain at home.

Meanwhile, leading Canterbury jockey Chris Johnson has elected to make the most of there being no racing at Riccarton, and will head north on Saturday to ride at the Otaki-Maori meeting at Trentham.

Last night Johnson had already picked up five rides with three coming from the strike-rate stable of Peter McKenzie, who is certain to campaign a number of horses at Riccarton over the upcoming Grand National Carnival in August.

Harness racing looks set to benefit from the Riccarton situation, however, with the Forbury Park meeting which was to be run tonight, now scheduled to race on Saturday afternoon in place of the gallops meeting.

With snow predicted until well into tomorrow there is still every possibility that the meeting won't go ahead, but by shifting it to the available Saturday slot Harness Racing New Zealand have given the meeting the best chance of getting off the ground.

Runners are an even split between Otago, Southland and Canterbury, but in the interests of safety a decision will be made at 2pm tomorrow to decide whether the meeting goes ahead.

The shift means that Forbury will now run in the middle of the two days of racing in Blenheim which kick off tomorrow.

Forecasts indicate Marlborough will miss most of the wintry blast, but it will be travel arrangements for the large number of horses from Canterbury which could cause problems.

Harness Racing New Zealand issued a statement yesterday encouraging trainers to look at bringing forward their travel arrangements in an attempt to beat the weather.

They intend to continue to monitor the situation today before any further decisions are made.

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- The Press

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