Pitman retains Oakleigh hopes

20 February 2019 05:27:01 EST

Co-trainer Michael Pitman remains hopeful that Sensei will be in with a chance of breaking a long drought for the Kiwis in Saturday's Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m).

The last New Zealand-trained galloper to win the Oakleigh was Mr Illusion way back in 1985 and Sensei will attempt to put things right at the weekend.

He's the best sprinter I've ever had.

Michael Pitman

It will be a tough assignment though as Sensei is up against the heavily fancied Nature Strip and will need a lot to go his way.

"We know it's not going to be easy, but I'm really looking forward to running him in a race with good speed in it," Pitman revealed.

Sensei has won five of his 17 starts in New Zealand and he ran third to stablemate Enzo's Lad last time out in the Group 1 Telegraph Handicap (1200m) at Trentham in January.

However, Pitman said Sensei should have won the Telegraph Handicap and says the horse is even better than former stable star Coup Align, with whom he won 13 races a few years ago.

"I have no doubt he should have won the Telegraph," Pitman said. "Had he got the draw that Enzo's Lad got, he would have won the race for sure.

"He's the best sprinter I've ever had. Coup Align was an outstanding sprinter, but this horse is just that little bit better.

"He's a very fast horse, but we've had to treat him with kid gloves a bit because of his tendency to over-race."

Sensei is 150/1 to win the Oakleigh Plate (Race 8 at Caulfield), with Nature Strip 13/10 and Spright 14/1.

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