Day At The Track

Lazarus starts $2m campaign at short odds

08:41 AM 12 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Lazarus and Mark Purdon,Harness racing
Lazarus and Mark Purdon
Gloucester Park

The king has gone to a whole new level.

Which is bad news for Lazarus's rivals in tonight's A$300,000 Fremantle Cup in Perth and any others who get in his way as he starts a 43-day, three-state campaign aimed at A$2.1 million worth of races.

The champion New Zealand pacer is a $1.30 favourite to win tonight's 2536m mobile (held at 12.44am NZ time) against many of the horses he thrashed in last month's Inter Dominion final on the same track, with the main addition being his own stablemate Ultimate Machete.

While some bookies have Ultimate Machete the second favourite and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen makes the trip to Perth to drive him, Purdon says he won't be beating Lazarus.

 

"I think something would need to happen to Laz for him to get beaten, even as good as Ultimate Machete is going," says Purdon.

"He is just loving it here and I think the hard racing he has had has improved him and he has gone to another level, a level the others aren't at.

"He feels fantastic and he is used to sitting parked to win over here now, which he will probably have to do again. But I think all the hard racing he has had has toughened him up and made him even better."

Just as important as that toughness is Lazarus's soundness, which Purdon says shouldn't be a probem in the five group one races he contests over the next six weeks, ending in the Miracle Mile.

"He is very sound so all going well that won't be an issue and a lot of these top horses are facing similar programmes.

"So the six weeks might be harder on them than it is on him."

Ultimate Machete has been outstanding in Perth but with his lack of gate speed he faces being three wide for at least part of the race and that suggests a local like Chicago Bull could get closest to Lazarus, as he did in the Inter Final.

Closer to home at Cambridge tonight, trainer Steve Telfer finds himself in the rarest of all racing situations, going into a tote race knowing he will win.

Telfer trains all six starters in race two at Cambridge tonight, a feat occasionally matched in smaller non-tote races in New Zealand but almost unheard of in a proper race, especially one with some high class pacers.

"We have a lot of horses in this grade and I am grateful to the club for holding the race but it is a weird feeling knowing you are going to win it no matter what."

That has sent Telfer searching for five sets of his colours, with Valor Lustre racing in owner Ivan Court's colours. Perhaps the best of the Steve Six is American Brave, who has won three of just seven starts but comes with a warning tonight as he hasn't raced since the Sires' Stakes Final at Addington two months ago.

"He trialled well last week and was going to have another this weekend but they aren't on so he is here instead.

"Because of that lack of hard fitness I don't want him having a hard run early so he might look for cover and that can often be a tricky way to win at Cambridge," says Telfer.

"While small fields can be hard to work out I'd say our best two chances are Triple Eight and Step Up."

Telfer also has a huge chance with Ideal Roman in tomorrow's Parawai Cup as the northern grass track circuit returns.


MIchael Guerin

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