Lazarus rises to occasion again
CHAMPION pacer Lazarus rose to the occasion while "hype horse" Heaven Rocks ran last, turning New Zealand Cup markets into confusion after the five-horse $50,0000 Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night.
Harness racing’s allconquering All Stars stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, despite running the top three in the Classic (Have Faith In Me and Dream About Me filling the minor placings), were left shocked by the run of Heaven Rocks.
He was the pre-post race favourite and had also headed Lazarus in the pre-post NZ Cup market.
Driver Rasmussen said it felt as if the giant-sized pacer had broken down. A post-race veterinary examination found the horse to be lame in the near front leg. The five-year-old pacing giant was vetted again yesterday and found to have a greasy heel.
Lazarus lifted his earnings past the $2.2 million mark for owners Glenys and Phil Kennard, Trevor Casey and Kevin Riseley, after leading out, trailing Have Faith In Me from the 1300m.
Co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon, who would have preferred an extra week to fit Lazarus for a return to racing, asked him for just enough to win, scoring by a head.Lazarus paced the 2600m in a comfortable 3:19.3. The lead time picked up over the final 800m in 55.3s and the last 400m in a sharp 26.1s.
Purdon was recording his fourth training win in the race, having earlier won with Jack Cade in 2003, Classic Cullen (cotrained with with Grant Payne) in 2007, and Lazarus (co-trained with Natalie Rasmussen) last year.
The concern over Heaven Rocks, also co-raced by the Kennards’ and Mr Riseley, added to a challenging first half of the programme for the All Stars stable.
They had debutante Funatthebeach late scratched out of the opening Sires Stakes 3YO Heat of the spring on veterinary advice with a suspected virus.
Chase Auckland, fancied to win the heat, came out on race morning, due to getting cast in his box on Thursday night and being slightly lame when jogged on Friday morning.
Another All Stars runner in Prince Fearless was strongly supported in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup but ran eighth, while another of their starters Renske B led up as favourite in another support race, but tired to run fifth.