Riccarton horseman Michael Pitman is hoping a change to his annual Christmas plan will work a treat for the listed Berkley Stud Stakes at Wingatui today.
Pitman is usually based at Waikouaiti from mid-December through to the end of the summer season, but he has decided to enjoy the festive comforts at home.
"I'm having my first Christmas Day at home in 25 years," Pitman said on Sunday.
Pitman prepares three of the 11 acceptors in the listed event, with El Chico, So Elusive and Credit Crunch carrying the hopes of the stable.
One of Pitman's regular jockeys, Chris Johnson, gave an early indication of his preference.
"I gave Chris the choice of So Elusive or El Chico and he chose So Elusive," he said.
Pitman isn't so sold on So Elusive as the leading chance though.
"Jockeys are bad judges," he said.
A wide barrier of nine isn't a huge hurdle to El Chico, who carries 59kg over the 1200m.
"El Chico likes a bit of room when he makes his run and you've got a long back straight at Wingatui - I'd much rather he drew there than drew one, put it that way."
So Elusive is well served by the weight relief for mares, carrying 53.5kg which works in her favour.
"Mares get in very well in those nice races.'
Credit Crunch isn't completely out of the equation either, with Pitman using Captain Cook Stakes winner Final Touch to frank Credit Crunch's form. "He only got beaten a nose by Final Touch [at Riccarton on September 22] three starts back and Final Touch has done everything right since that day.
"He goes good fresh - that's why we haven't raced him - so this is the race we've had in mind for him for quite a while. "He's my third choice but he's not a third-stringer if you know what I mean."
The threat to Pitman appears to be King Montrose. Otago Daily TimesBy Matt Smith