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Sensei out to master Prom Queen

19 October 2017, 2:32 p.m.

Michael Pitman says he will be thrilled if Sensei can finish second to exciting Northland filly Prom Queen in Saturday's Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton, but that's not to say he's resigned to defeat.

The Christchurch trainer will saddle both Sensei and Savvy Coup in the three-year-old feature for which TAB bookmakers have installed Prom Queen the $1.60 favourite.

Sensei Photo: Race Images South

But Pitman believes that if the Kenny and Lisa Rae and Krystal Williams-trained Prom Queen is off her game, then Dream Ahead colt Sensei could be the beneficiary.

"I wasn't originally planning to run in this one, but he's so well in himself and with the dry track and the way that field has shaped up, I thought it was worth putting him in," said Pitman, who along with his training partner and son Matthew has 16 horses entered for Ashburton.

"We're very happy with the horse and we don't think there will be any problem with the 1400m on the way he won the other day. It wasn't easy for him the way that race panned out but he's just got something about him.

"I'd be chuffed if he could run second to Prom Queen. I really don't think there will be any problem with her stepping up to 1400m, but if there is any chink on her armour he'll be ready to pounce. I think the step up to 1400m will really suit him."

Sensei's fresh-up Rating 65 win over 1200m at Timaru last Friday was his second win from just seven starts and he has only once missed a placing - when fourth to Padraig in a Trentham two-year-old race in January.

Another factor giving Pitman great confidence is Sensei's trackwork this preparation, which the prolific trainer regards as the best he has overseen.

"I've never had a horse run the sectionals in trackwork that he does. Not Coup Align, not Son Of Maher. He can really reel off quick sectionals," Pitman said.

"Prom Queen will lead and he's a better horse ridden off the pace and allowed to run home. I'd be shocked if Prom Queen didn’t see out the 1400m and she'll be very hard to beat, but he'll be competitive."

An A$60,000 yearling purchase, he is a half-brother to Gr.2 Queensland Guineas-winning Fastnet Rock stallion Rothesay. Sensei’s grand-dam is the three-time Group One winner Canny Lass and he is closely related to Gr.1 Golden Slipper winner Canny Lad.

"His sire won a July Cup and was rated the equal of Frankel as a three-year-old. His X-rays were clean, but nobody knew anything about the stallion in his first season so we were able to get him cheap," Pitman said.

Sensei is the $4.80 second favourite for the Barneswood Farm Stakes, while Savabeel filly Savvy Coup is a $35 outsider.

"The further she goes the better she'll be,” Pitman said of Savvy Coup.

“She featured several times for being knocked over in the stipes report in her first start back and she just didn't handle being in the trail on a slow pace well the other day. But it's a black-type race so we had to throw the dice." - NZ Racing Desk.