News

Berger tackles meaningful Taylor Mile

By Duane Ranger

The history of Friday’s Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park meant more to Mike Berger than actually winning this year’s $100,000 Group One for four-year-old pacers.

“I know we have no chance of beating Lazarus. It should be just a stroll in ‘The Park’ for him. I’d be happy running in the first three, but you know me I’m always in for the fight when the big money is up.

“If you aim for the moon you might end up at the stars,” Berger said.

The Cambridge trainer said when he nominated outsider Max Phactor for Friday’s Waste Management 2017 Taylor Mile there were four nominations.

“The club said if there was five the race would go ahead so I nominated ‘Max’. I’m delighted it has got off the ground. We won it in 2005 with V For and that was a special night. It is an honour to have your name alongside some of the great horses, trainers and drivers who have won the race.

“I’m glad it went ahead. There’s too much history for it not to,” Berger said.

Friday’s race has attracted six starters - three from the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable - Golden Goddess (2), Waikiki Beach (4), and the likely winner and current New Zealand Cup champion - Lazarus (6).

“We could have put him in an easier intermediate grade race but I thought if you aren’t in, you can’t win. I’ve been happy with all his runs this time in. If he can get a suck in behind them, then he could place or run in four,” Berger said.

Max Phactor has drawn the ace and will be looking for his first win at Alexandra Park after producing nine placings. The Art Major entire justified his $2 favouritism with an easy win over the 2200m mobile at Cambridge last Thursday.

Max Phactor stopped the clock in 2:43 even (mile rate: 1:59.2) and home in 58.1 and 28.4. That was his sixth win in 46 starts and took his stake earnings past $73,000.

"He had a good break after racing in June and has come back a nice, strong horse. He's gone well since coming back in February.

"I can't see him winning but you just never know in racing. I'd be rapt even if he ran in the first four," Berger said.

The result looks one of the most predictable of 2017. Lazarus wins and adds his name to the following list of Taylor Mile champions. He is rated 130 – Max Phactor 73.

Note: The Greg & Nina Hope trained Mossdale Connor set the current New Zealand 1700m mobile record in this race two years ago in 1:58.1

The last dozen winners of the Group One Taylor Mile have been (with drivers and times):

2016: Field Marshall (Dexter Dunn) 1:59.5.

2015: Mossdale Connor (Maurice McKendry) 1:58.1.

2014: Besotted (Simon Lawson) 2:00.0.

2013: Christen Me (Dexter Dunn) 2:01.5.

2012: Terror To Love (Anthony Butt) 2:03.3.

2011: Gomeo Romeo (David Butcher) 2:04.0.

2010: Second Wind (Gavin Smith) 2:02.9.

2009: Auckland Reactor (Blair Orange) 2:01.8

2008: Changeover (David Butcher) 2:03.7.

2007: Devisive (Peter Rixon) 2:02.9.

2006: Mainland Banner (Ricky May) 1:55.1 (mile).

2005: V For (Philip Butcher) 1:55.7.

Footnote: The Taylor Mile is actually a 1700m mobile. From its inception in 1986 until 2006 it was run as a 1609m (mile) mobile. It was changed to a 1700m mobile in 2007.