Day At The Track

Lazarus takes star billing in Oz

09:12 AM 20 Jan 2017 NZDT
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Stuart McCormack photo

Champion pacer Lazarus may find himself in an unusual position tomorrow and it could be his own stablemate who puts him there.

The wonder horse is rated a $1.35 chance to win the A$120,000 Ballarat Cup tomorrow night, his first stop on a five-race Australian campaign.

Lazarus has raced only once in two months, winning effortlessly at Cambridge, but pleased trainer-driver Mark Purdon with a bristling workout in windy conditions on Wednesday.

"I didn't work him as hard as I intended because of the wind but he feels sharper and getting back to his best," said Purdon.

The stocky 4-year-old has taken time to trim down and sharpen up after a 10-day layoff after his stupendous Cup week antics in Christchurch but is heading in the right direction quickly now.

His biggest problem tomorrow night is being drawn wide over the 2710m mobile, a race in which one of the two other favourites, stablemate Smolda or local hero Lennytheshark, look certain to lead.

"I realise he will probably have to sit parked to win," admits Purdon.

"Even if Smolda leads we have to give him his best chance to win so at best we would probably be parked.

"I think he can win sitting parked, but it won't be easy."

When you have a reputation as big as Lazarus you don't often have to sit parked because many of your rivals get out of your way and he led in all three of his open-class wins up to and including the New Zealand Cup.

But he did have to sit parked outside a flying Christen Me in the NZ Free-For-All and still got the job done so he should again tomorrow, with maybe Smolda the horse he will have to wear down late.

The clash is the centrepiece of a huge night for New Zealand harness talent across the Tasman, with Have Faith In Me returning in a sprint race he should win on his way to the Hunter Cup.

Piccadilly Princess has a good draw in an M1 race, while Kiwi trotters Prince Fearless and Daryl Boko contest the A$30,000 Cochrane Cup, with Purdon believing Prince Fearless is still on the way up.

At Menangle, Our Waikiki Beach looks to get his winning groove back against flying local Salty Robyn in a prelude to the Chariots of Fire.


Michael Guerin
Reprinted with the permission of the NZ Herald

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