Blessed win helps Pitman find relief from the mother tongue

With a "Yes, mother, in a moment," sort of sideways glance at the redoubtable, stetsoned Jenny who had come to claim him for a photo-call, Mark Pitman, eyes emotionally damp, went on describing how it felt to send out the Hennessy Gold Cup winner in his third season as a trainer. Only for a few moments, but did disobedience signify a scissoring of the apron strings?

With a "Yes, mother, in a moment," sort of sideways glance at the redoubtable, stetsoned Jenny who had come to claim him for a photo-call, Mark Pitman, eyes emotionally damp, went on describing how it felt to send out the Hennessy Gold Cup winner in his third season as a trainer. Only for a few moments, but did disobedience signify a scissoring of the apron strings?

Sure, Pitman would not have been in the winner's enclosure with Ever Blessed at Newbury on Saturday had his mother not chosen to retire, a fact that was dutifully acknowledged, but he wouldn't be the first to find that parental achievement can be an intolerable burden.

It's happened in all sports, usually to the sons of famous fathers, their aspirations undermined by inevitable comparison. Saturday saw Pitman, 33, living with the weight of racing history. Not just that his mother trained the 1984 Hennessy winner, Burrough Hill Lad, but his father Richard's ride to victory on Charlie Potheen in 1972. If it wasn't one thing it was another.

Nothing mattered as much in Pitman's mind on the eve of the race than rain. Anxious about the persistent shoulder injury that makes soft ground essential to Ever Blessed's well being, he was in the mood to do a Gene Kelly when the heavens opened. ''I was the happiest man in Berkshire when I arrived at the course for the Hennessy dinner on Friday night and it was tipping it down,'' he said.

A description followed, one that hardly fits with the lump of horseflesh that Timmy Murphy took over Newbury's fences before going clear on the flat to come home three a half lengths ahead of Spendid, who was carrying David Nicholson's hopes of going into retirement with 1,500 winners. ''Keeping him [Ever Blessed] right is like holding together a fragile piece of china,'' Pitman said. ''We never gallop him at home with another horse, otherwise he'd get competitive and put too much pressure on himself.''

There spake a young man who appears to have been attentive when the curriculum was set out and can therefore embellish his family's reputation. This was endorsed by one of Ever Blessed's owners, a Bradford businessman, Stewart Andrew, who lunged in on the day and was happy with the outcome. Ever Blessed was later quoted at 25-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but his trainer added: "I think the bookmakers are a little rash ­ he has a long way to go yet."

Pitman was one of two appealing stories out there. The other was Nicholson, who officially retires from racing tomorrow. When Richard Johnson brought home the 13-8 favourite Picket Piece in the Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle it was announced as Nicholson's 1,499th winner. But was it? Nobody seemed sure, least of all Nicholson himself. There was talk of two winners in Belgium that might have escaped the scorer's scrutiny. ''We could already be there,'' the bluff trainer said.

In any case that would have spoiled a script that had Nicholson going for the landmark with Spendid in a race he almost won as Rough Tweed's jockey 37 years ago.

This was not to be. The weight of Andrew's money had helped force Ever Blessed to 9-2 favourite when the 13 runners set off over the three miles and two and a half furlongs in pale autumn sunshine.

Turning for home Ever Blessed began to perform as though Pitman should stop worrying about him. Held behind the leaders on the first circuit, he began to look less delicate by the stride, outfighting Spendid over the final three fences although Murphy, who recorded a career-best win, was mindful of the gelding's physical limitations. ''He was tiring and might have gone over if I'd asked too much,'' he said. ''But he's tough and if he was physically normal you'd be looking at an exceptional horse.''

Pitman's success led to a predictably emotional response from his mother in the winner's circle. ''For Mark to win a race like this proves everything I've said about him being ready,'' she said. Genuine enough, but time for the lady to step aside. Live on vicariously by all means but better at a discreet distance.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
i100
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Voices
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK
voices

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past