Champion Lazarus gives rivals no chance

Never in doubt ... Co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon salutes the crowd after driving champion...
Never in doubt ... Co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon salutes the crowd after driving champion pacer Lazarus to his second consecutive win in the New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington yesterday. PHOTO: JONNY TURNER
Superstar pacer Lazarus confirmed his champion status with a brilliant win in yesterday’s New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington.

A bumper crowd erupted as the 5yr-old charged away from his opponents to win the $800,000 feature by more than five lengths in the hands of driver Mark Purdon, who co-trains the horse with Natalie Rasmussen.

After his horse’s second consecutive win in the 3200m race, Purdon could only find one word to describe his superstar.

‘‘He is a champion. I think that is the only way to describe him.’’

Lazarus made a brilliant beginning to the race, which Purdon felt was the key to the horse’s chances.

‘‘We had been giving him some practice and today I asked him to go out quicker and he duly obliged,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought that was the key to the race. I thought there were quick beginners there and if we could get away it just took away the extra work he was going to have to do.’’
While Lazarus was in front and out of trouble, some of his rivals were in turmoil behind him.

The winner’s stablemate, Dream About Me, and driver Tim Williams were wiped out of the race shortly after the start when the mare collided with Seal The Deal, whose driver, Ricky May, was tipped from his sulky.

While the two reinsmen untangled themselves, second favourite Heaven Rocks galloped wildly further out on the track, losing valuable ground.

Purdon was unaware of what had happened behind him and set about making it impossible for his rival drivers to catch Lazarus.

‘‘He made such a great beginning I thought I would make the others work if they wanted to have a look at him. That was the reason I kept rolling along.’’

As hard as they tried, no horse could get near the defending champion as he went on to reel off a sizzling 54.4sec last 800m to win and send the cup day crowd into a frenzy.

Among those cheering was a nervous Gavin Chin, the Dunedin co-breeder of Lazarus with Brian West, of Christchurch.

‘‘I was so nervous during the race I could not sit still,’’ he said.

Chin was completely lost for word to describe the feeling of watching Lazarus win.

‘‘You honestly can’t describe the feeling — it is totally indescribable.’’

Purdon confirmed Lazarus will leave New Zealand tomorrow to race in the Interdominions in Perth, starting on November 24.

Otago horse Titan Banner’s chances were effectively extinguished after he lost the perfect one-one sit when Australian raider and eventual third place-getter Tiger Tara galloped in front on him.

Tiger Tara’s gallop was put down to the horse jumping a marker peg that was displaced and lay on the track after the collision between Dream About Me and Seel The Deal.

The incident caused Titan Banner’s driver Dexter Dunn to take evasive action and move wider on the track.

From there, ninth-placed Titan Banner was in a hopeless position in the run home, which Dunn said cost the horse a potential top-three placing.    

Tiger Tara picked himself up again to run third, behind runner-up Jack’s Legend.

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