Pitman Wins National Trainers’ Premiership
Michael Pitman has been a trainer for twenty-nine years and has worked with some of the best horses New Zealand has to offer. His patience and passion for horse racing finally paid off when it was announced that he had won the New Zealand National Trainers’ Premiership with his eighty-six victories for the season, two more than runner up and friendly rival, Mark Walker. Still in disbelief over his victory, Michael Pitman was at a loss for words as media and horse racing community members showered him with praise and well wishes in the wake of the announcement.
The defining moment in the New Zealand National Trainers’ Premiership took place at Oamaru, where Michael Pitman enjoyed three victories and became the first trainer from the South Islands to win the premiership in thirty-six years. Rex Cochrane won the National Trainers’ Premiership during the 1971 to 1972 racing season, with a total of fifty-three victories. Pitman, who is based in Christchurch, commented that the most memorable moment in the season was when Mark Walker had phoned him to congratulate him. Last year, it was Walker who took the premiership, with Stephen McKee in second and Pitman coming in, in third place.
Pitman said that he hoped his victory would bring attention to the South Island horse racing industry, and felt that his win would prove that the South Islands have a lot to contribute to racing in New Zealand. He also credits his success to the hard work and dedication that his wife contributes at the stable yard, as well has the support he receives from his sons, who are also very involved in the stable yard and in horse racing. Pitman praised the efforts of the other staff members, and two of the jockeys who have been working closely with Pitman this season, namely veteran jockey David Walsh and newly qualified jockey, after completing her apprenticeship, Ashley Mundy.
In total, Pitman brought prize money of $1.5 million to the horse owners that trust him with their horses, and the number of wins he has secured this season, improving greatly on last year’s total, has brought him the premiership title. Pitman was quoted saying: “Even though I have done it, I still can't believe the number of winners I have trained. I've managed to win a lot of races in my lifetime, but I would never ever have thought anyone could train that many winners from a South Island base.”