Michael Guerin in London

Michael Pitman suspects he has lost as much as he knows he has won.

Standing on the famous gallops of Newmarket in England yesterday, Pitman and his wife Diane were about to achieve what is only a dream for most horse trainers by taking Enzo's Lad to the opening day of Royal Ascot overnight tonight (NZ time).

Their assignment is the £500,000 ($966,000) King's Stand Stakes, a 1000m straight sprint with The Queen watching on.


This is no normal day at the races for the Pitmans, nor any other New Zealand trainer.

Only one other Kiwi galloper has raced at Royal Ascot in the modern era, when Seachange finished 12th in the Golden Jubilee 11 years ago.

Royal Ascot is like racing's Olympics in that is attracts many of the world's best, is steeped in history and is an explosion of colours and limbs dazzling to the eye.

But also like the Olympics, you don't really expect anybody you actually know to be competing.

And you really don't expect them to win.

Enzo's Lad almost certainly won't win. Kiwi racing fans know that, the bookies are sure of it and even a horseman as rambunctious as Pitman daren't dream it.

"He is very well, so he can go a good race," is the best he can manage.

"He galloped 800m with the blinkers on to wake him up the other day and trashed his galloping mate.


"The track is drying out, which will help us and the young guy who rides him, David Egan, is a good young rider.

"So we will be proud of him if he can go a good race."

Of course Enzo's Lad has beaten the odds before. He has twice won our most punishing sprint, the Telegraph, beating horses considered his superiors. This season he carried the topweight to down subsequent multiple Group 1 winners Melody Belle and Bostonian. That earned him his golden ticket to Ascot.

But the King's Stand may be a mountain too high for a horse who wouldn't be considered in the 10 best sprinters in Australasia.

The Pitmans, and six of the seven Wellington-based owners of Enzo's Lad who will stand alongside them at Ascot, care not.

"This is amazing for us, people like us to be here," he smiles.

"Some of these owners have a five per cent share in a horse who cost A$15,000 and they have had a ball.

"So we are going to love every minute of it."

That entourage will reach close to 25 — excited Kiwis who did fly.

As per the Royal Enclosure's strict dress code (gentlemen top hat and morning suits), they will have the time of their lives dressed like they have travelled back in time.

While Enzo's Lad probably can't win, Pitman can't lose. His battle with bowel cancer is well documented, with his latest clearance only coming two weeks ago.

Like many who have fought that demon, Pitman realises any day is a gift to be treasured. And tomorrow is the day to be treasured the most.

Because why there won't be glory on the racetrack, there will be the greater glory of being alive.

Royal Ascot

• What: Britain's most iconic horse racing meeting.Where: Ascot racecourse, Berkshire, outside London.

• When: Five consecutive days starting overnight tonight NZ time.

• Who: Many of the best horses and jockeys from around the world.

• Watched by: The Queen herself, most of the royal family and 300,000 racegoers over the week.

• Times: First race 1.30am NZ time, King's Stand featuring Kiwi galloper Enzo's Lad at 2.40am.

Foreign flyers

These are the sprint sensations who stand in Enzo's Lad's way at Royal Ascot tomorrow.

• Battaash: Second in this race last year when he engaged in a drag race with American freak Lady Aurelia, only be run down late by Blue Point. Can get very fiery but looked more controlled winning fresh-up at Haydock recently.

• Blue Point: Beautifully-timed ride got him home in this last year after he had finished last in the Chairman's Sprint in Hong Kong, the same form Enzo's Lad brings to this race. Has been rattling off strong sprinting wins in Dubai to prepare for his Ascot return.

• Mabs Cross: Surprised beating Battaash in the Abbaye in Paris last October but the latter was too good at Haydock. Gets a 5-pound pull in weights and loves the hard 1000m.

• Imprimis: Has shown speed to burn in native US and looking to copy Lady Aurelia, who won this race for America two years ago.

• Houtzen: Aussie mare who can be blistering at her best but has not been as reliable this season as during her dazzling two and three-year-old seasons. Looks settled in and very fit at Newmarket.