New SW Epaulette- Epee Beel Takes Listed Insurance Stakes

Media Release - Saturday April 13

Underrated filly Epee Beel claimed her first career stakes victory in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1600m) on Saturday, and in doing so brought up a special milestone for co-trainer Michael Pitman as she became winner number 2000 in New Zealand for the Riccarton maestro.

The three-year-old daughter of Epaulette had been a model of consistency of late without standing on the top step of the podium, but she delivered when it mattered for Pitman and son Matthew as she fought off the challenges of Cambridge visitor Nepheti and local filly Quintabelle to deliver her second career victory.

Michael Pitman leads his 2000th winner back to scale in Epee Beel, winner of the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1600m) on Saturday.  Photo: Ajay Berry (RIS)

Rider Tina Comignaghi had Epee Beel beautifully situated outside pacemaker Caffeinated before taking the lead with 300m to run. The filly fought like a tiger over the closing stages to deny her challengers as she scored by a neat length at the line.

Pitman was thrilled to see the filly win who he believes will only improve as she gets over more ground.

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“She’s a very nice filly who we bought her off gavelhouse.com for $5,000,” Pitman said.

“We didn’t have any owners for her, but I had people come in to form a syndicate who have really supported me over the years, so to get this result today is very satisfying for a number of reasons.

“Snow Thomas is one of the main players in the syndicate and he raced Just Tommy with me many years ago.

“It takes a good horse to do what she has today and in the manner in which she did it and we can’t wait to see her go over further.

“We will line her up next week in the Warstep Stakes (Listed, 2000m) and I think she will be even stronger.”

Pitman started the day on 1998 New Zealand winners and quickly added win 1999 when Movie Girl and Comignaghi bolted home in the first event on the card. Epee Beel took him to the 2000 mark which places him second on New Zealand’s all-time list behind Graeme Rogerson.

The Pitman family already has more than 2,000 victories to its name, reaching that milestone in March of 2022. But 93 of those wins came when Pitman was based in Ballarat in the 1990s and his wife Diane took over the Riccarton stable.

“A long time ago Pat Finnegan, who kept all the records for New Zealand racing, told me I was close to breaking the South Island record for wins in a season which at the time was 51 so we’ve come a long way since then,” Pitman said.

“We’ve averaged 50 wins a season for forty years which is a hell of a big ask, especially when there were plenty who told me I got my license out of a Weet-bix packet and didn’t deserve it.

“I’ve won three New Zealand premierships and now this so maybe they might even consider me for the Hall Of Fame now.

“Funnily enough back in 1979 I was in hospital with four other blokes after I had lost my leg and was getting an artificial replacement.

“In the same ward was Robert Dunn who had had a bad smash on the harness track.

“He trained his 2000th winner a week ago and we’ve had plenty of talks about it and how good it would be if we could do it at the same time, so to do that today with all my family including the grandkids here makes this very very special.”

Epee Beel is a daughter of the stakes-placed mare Pipi Beel with her great-grandam being the dual Group One winner Nimue while she is also related to Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) and Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) winner Coventina Bay. - LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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