Day At The Track

Voak plans to test Lazarus

07:49 PM 03 Jan 2018 NZDT
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Vultan Tin and driver Chris Voak
Vultan Tin and driver Chris Voak
Gloucester Park Photo

Chris Voak, one of the State’s most accomplished and aggressive harness racing reinsmen, has thrown down the gauntlet to New Zealand superstar and Inter Dominion champion Lazarus, declaring that he was not intimidated by Vultan Tin’s task against the sensational five-year-old in the $22,000 Princi Smallgoods Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

Voak is in no mood to surrender the advantage of Vultan Tin’s No. 1 barrier and he is determined to set a solid pace, leaving Mark Purdon the job of driving Lazarus in the breeze.

Voak said that he had spoken to Vultan Tin’s part-owner and trainer Phil Costello before the fields were declared on Tuesday afternoon and that Costello said that the gelding had improved after his latest start (working hard without cover and winning from Motu Premier and Ohoka Punter over 2536m three Fridays ago).

“Phil said that Vultan Tin had improved in leaps and bounds and that he would be leading on Friday night, and if possible, won’t be handing up to Lazarus,” Voak said.

“I don’t think that Vultan Tin has been beaten when he has led.

“There is no doubt that Lazarus is a great horse and should be winning, but it is not impossible for Vultan Tin to beat him. Phil is of the opinion that Lazarus can sit outside Vultan Tin and beat him, but he certainly wants me to set the pace.

“Therefore, the son of Dawn Ofa New Day won’t be handing up, and this will make it a more interesting and genuine race. If Lazarus was able to get to the front from barrier two it would be likely that he would then walk and sprint home.

“Phil is happy with Vultan Tin’s progress leading into the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup and he believes that he is now lengths better than he was during the Inter Dominion championship series. He says that Vultan Tin’s work has been tenfold better than what he was doing leading into the Inters.”

Vultan Tin further strengthened his claims as Western Australia’s most improved pacer when he started at 85/1 and raced three back on the pegs in sixth position before finishing strongly to be fourth behind Lazarus in the Inter Dominion final.

“The final wasn’t really run to suit Vultan Tin,” Voak said. “He needs the pace on and would have been better suited if the pace was faster.

“He then sat in the breeze at his next start and won at a 1.56.1 rate over 2536m. In front this week, I’d expect him to go 1.55.5. I think it would hurt Vultan Tin’s chances more if he handed up the lead and Lazarus slowed the pace.

“I’m not sure whether Vultan Tin can produce a miracle, but when Lazarus came to WA I guess everybody over east expected him to destroy our horses. However, Lazarus was beaten in his first two Inters heats (finishing seconds to Soho Tribeca and Tiger Tara). He had tough runs, but was still beaten. It’s a lot tougher in the breeze and this week he will be having his first run for four weeks.”

Voak was nominated to drive Vultan Tin, Devendra, Jambiani and Costa Del Magnifico in Friday night’s 2536m event and he boiled his choice down to Vultan Tin and Devendra before opting for Vultan Tin.

“The barrier draw strengthened my decision, with Vultan Tin drawing No. 1 and Devendra No. 6,” he said.

Voak handled Devendra for the first time when the Tasmanian eight-year-old enjoyed a perfect trail behind the pacemaker Tricky Styx before finishing fast to win from A Piccadilly Princess and Our Jimmy Johnstone over 2130m last Friday night.

“Devendra is a very nice horse and I expect him to perform well this week,” Voak said. “Lazarus most probably will win and I think that Vultan Tin and Devendra will fill the placings.”

Devendra will be driven by Nathan Turvey, Stuart McDonald will handle Jambiani and Shannon Suvaljko has been engaged for Costa Del Magnifico.

Ken Casellas

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