MICHAEL PITMAN knows a thing or two about beating the odds.
Having survived a horrific car smash and beaten cancer, taking on the world’s top sprinters at Royal Ascot with rank outsider Enzo’s Lad must seem like a piece of cake.
The 64-year-old has travelled halfway across the world from New Zealand to get a slice of the action at racing’s most famous meeting.
He grinned: “To be here is just fantastic. I was asked recently whether having a horse at Royal Ascot was on my bucket list – of course it was but so was going to the moon. I thought this was unachievable so to be here is something extra special I can tell you.”
The dream come true for Pitman to be competing at Royal Ascot has been made even sweeter by the news he received en route to Britain.
Having battled bowel cancer for more than eight months with rounds of debilitating chemotherapy and radiotherapy he was given the all clear by email as he stepped off the plane at Los Angeles.
He had told doctors to give him the results – good or bad – having been convinced by Enzo’s Lad’s owners to have a crack at Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes despite a disappointing performance in Hong Kong in April.
The cancer hadn’t stopped him going to Moonee Valley to see Savvy Coup take on Australia’s mighty mare Winx in the Cox Plate last October despite going under the knife just a few weeks earlier and the spectre of it returning wasn’t going to stop him being at Royal Ascot.
Pitman revealed: “I’m a survivor. It’s been well documented that 12 months ago I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“Like all fellas I ignored the signs – I wouldn’t have wanted to leave it any later that’s for sure.
“When they put the x-ray on me they said I had quite a decent lump. I had an operation last October which lasted nearly eight hours – they took 18 inches off my bowel. I’m free of cancer now.
“When I first started training I had nothing and within three or four months I was hit by a car. I was in hospital for 26 consecutive weeks and I now have an artificial leg.
“I’m the guy that hates going through airports because I’m the bloke who stands there and gets frisked.
“I’ve had the best life – don’t you worry about that. I have had a lot of big winners with loyal owners who have been with me through it all.”
The Pitman tally has now gone beyond the 1,800 winner mark and his Christchurch stables, now in partnership with his son Matt, has topped the trainers’ charts three times.
Adding a Royal Ascot winner to their list of honours will not be easy. Enzo’s Lad – a £8,250 buy who will be ridden by David Egan – is a 66-1 shot to beat the likes of Battaash, Blue Point and Mabs Cross in the King’s Stand.
There will be hundreds of horses heading for Royal Ascot this week fuelling dreams of big-race glory.
After a life filled with triumph, tragedy and trauma, Pitman is just pleased to be there with a chance – no matter how slim that might be.
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