Lazarus preview

By Michael Guerin

Recent history would suggest Lazarus’s most logical problem in tomorrow night’s A$500,000 Hunter Cup may not be a problem at all.
 But it could still make for uncomfortable viewing for fans who take the $1.35 about the Kiwi champ beating Aussie’s best again.
 Lazarus returns from a recent bout of hoof soreness in Victoria’s richest race, with trainer-driver Mark Purdon insisting he is close enough to his peak to win.
 It is, after all, only three weeks since he sat three wide for the entire Fremantle Cup in Perth to only be beaten on the line in one of the great modern day pacing performances.
 “He was over the hoof problems he had pretty quickly after that and we have been working him as normal for the last two weeks,” says Purdon.
 “He has worked with Heaven Rocks this week and been his normal self so I think he will race up to his Inter Dominion form.”
 Purdon refers to Lazarus’s crushing victory in the December 8 Interdom final when he sat parked outside Tiger Tara before changing gears at the 300m mark and racing to greatness.
 The pair have almost identical draws tomorrow night, with Tiger Tara in the ace and Lazarus at barrier three but this time Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizutto says he will turn the race into a staying war.
 “I think Todd (McCarthy, driver) went too slow in the Interdom and that helped the others so this time I will tell him to run them hard,” says Pizutto.
 Which raises the scenario of Lazarus sitting parked outside a key rival on a red hot speed with Lennytheshark, defending champion Bling It On and Heaven Rocks sitting just off them waiting to swoop if Lazarus’s race fitness is exposed.
So what does Purdon make of that? Well, he likes the idea.
 “I wouldn’t let Todd go slow anyway,” says Purdon.
 “I know what a great stayer Laz is and that is why I let him slide forward and keep Tiger Tara keen in the Inter Dominion.
 “So if he goes hard then we won’t have to bother pressuring him.”
 After what he did in the Interdom and over the 3200m of his two dazzling New Zealand Cup wins, Lazarus ranks as one of the great pacing stayers ever but sitting parked in a searing 2760m mobile still sounds a brutal way to win, especially if you are only getting a $1.35 dividend.
 But the reality is we know Lazarus can sit parked outside Tiger Tara and beat him and Lennytheshark couldn’t run past Heaven Rocks when he had a cold sit on him two starts ago so might need Lazarus to under-perform to run past him.
 Still, unless you are a very big punter or an adrenalin junkie the 35 per cent profit margin doesn’t add up compared with the 100 per cent profit you were getting for more or less the same bet during the Inter Dominion when Lazarus was undoubtedly at his absolute peak.
 So for some it might be a watch and wow race rather, with the best actual bet probably Lennytheshark for a place.