Day At The Track

Lazarus victory would be truly freakish, says rival

07:21 AM 24 Nov 2017 NZDT
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Lazarus and Mark Purdon,Harness racing
Lazarus and Mark Purdon

The man who stands between Lazarus and a winning start to his Inter Dominion career says the New Zealand Cup hero is going to have to be a freak to beat him tonight.

West Australian trainer-driver Kim Prentice knows how to win an Inter Dominion, pulling off the 2003 series at Addington with Baltic Eagle after long-time favourite Young Rufus, trained by Lazarus's preparer Mark Purdon, was scratched on the eve of the series.

Prentice knows the series which starts at Gloucester Park in Perth tonight will be much stronger than the one Baltic Eagle won but he says he has even more equine firepower this time in Soho Tribeca.

He has drawn perfectly at barrier two in the opening 2130m heat just after midnight tonight (NZT), with Lazarus having to give him a huge start from barrier nine.

 

That almost certainly means Lazarus will have to sit parked and try to out-grind the hard-running local and Prentice doesn't think that will happen.

"It's great we've drawn so well and I'd like to think we'll find the front without spending too much petrol," he says. "If that happens and Lazarus can come around and beat us, then I'll be the first to put my hands in the air and say he's a freak.

"Knowing what I do about my horse and how good he is, I'll be stunned if Lazarus can do that."

Prentice said Soho Tribeca showed he was "better than ever" with a sparkling solo workout at Gloucester Park last weekend.

"I've never had him better. This is his moment on Friday. Baltic Eagle was a great horse and will always be my champion, but Soho Tribeca has a bit more to him. He's got more speed. He's sharper," Prentice said.

"He's a bit scary this horse. I still don't know how good he could end up being."

A fighting second would not be a disaster for Lazarus and Purdon but the champion trainer says he would like to win as he is fully aware of the public expectation on the two-time New Zealand Cup winner.

"It looks like I will be parked and have to do it the hard way but the horse is well and I won't be gifting it to Soho Tribeca if he is in front. We will make him work," says Purdon.

If Lazarus can sit parked and win, this is his series to lose. The other Kiwi in the series, Have Faith In Me, has a lot to prove on tighter Australian tracks and meets flying local Chicago Bull in tonight's last heat, while Lennytheshark dominates betting in the middle of the three heats.

Last Friday's outstanding NZ Free-For-All winner Ultimate Machete has the ace draw in tonight's Four-Year-Old Classic and has opened a $1.08 favourite from the ace, with the only concern whether he gets crossed at the start.

Meanwhile, tonight's Alexandra Park programme is highlighted by the return of last season's speedy three-year-old Star Galleria, who has been trialling well ahead of his comeback.


Michael Guerin

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