Racing: May's Derby aim - Lead from go to whoa

By Michael Guerin

Ricky May is not going to concede his best  New Zealand Derby-winning chance to Lazarus at Addington on Friday night. Photo / Dean Purcell
Ricky May is not going to concede his best New Zealand Derby-winning chance to Lazarus at Addington on Friday night. Photo / Dean Purcell

Ricky May is not going to concede his best New Zealand Derby-winning chance to Lazarus at Addington on Friday night.

Which means the King of Addington will be trying for an all the way win on Classie Brigade in the $200,000 classic.

Remarkably, May has never won the New Zealand Derby, even though he has captured a record seven New Zealand Cups and almost every other feature race run at Addington.

"I've got most of them and I've won a Derby at Alexandra Park but never here," he says.

"I thought I had a good hope with Inky Lord a long time ago but we ran into Westburn Grant.

"But this horse is one of the best chances I have ever had and he has the draw so I think we have to use it. So if we hold the lead at the start, and I think we will, then we have to stay there and make him [Lazarus] work.

"We made him work last week and my horse didn't shirk it, he kept going right to the line, but Lazarus was just too good. Maybe he will be again but we have to make life as difficult as possible for him."

In a Derby weakened by two of the top three New Zealand three-year-olds having overseas assignments, Classie Brigade has emerged as the biggest threat to Lazarus, who is looking to end this season unbeaten.

Lazarus has worked in far tougher races - the Sires' Stakes Final and Victoria Derby - this season and still won and probably will again on Friday night, as he can relax early and still be all but guaranteed the parked position a lap from home.

But the rigours of a hard season make it hard to take $1.20 for Lazarus, while it is equally hard to bet against such a dominant pacer.

Classie Brigade is the obvious danger and trainer Nigel McGrath has already beaten the All Stars stables in a group one at Addington at this carnival so it wouldn't be a total shock to see him do it again. Northerner Shandale, with something finally resembling a decent draw in a group one, looks the other threat and good place value at $2 fixed.

May is also hinting at taking luck out of the equation in another group one on Friday night with Monbet in the $80,000 NZ Trotting Champs.

The exceptional trotter returned with a sparkling win last Friday and after a strong summer diet of mobile racing, May thinks he may be able to cross to the lead from barrier seven.

"He actually comes off the gate better than a lot of people probably realise so trying to lead is definitely an option," says May.

After trotting 3:15 for the 2600m stand last week without a race or even trial in two months, the superstar should continue on his winning way.

The race of the night at Addington looks to be the Trotting Derby, with Marcoola and Wilma's Mate huge winners last Friday while High Gait and Conon Bridge are looking to return to their previous top rankings.

Meanwhile, the road to the four-year-old classics warms up at Alexandra Park on Friday night when Hughie Green meets the in-form trio of Hug The Wind, Risk and Bettor Spirits in the Kumeu Stakes.

Hughie Green was impressive enough downing Hug The Wind at the Pukekohe workouts last Saturday to suggest he can win again, especially as he has good standing start manners which could see him get handy quickly.

Premier night

Best bet: Monbet (Addington, R7): His under-rated gate speed should see him lead and dictate.

Suited: Le Reveur (Addington, R9): Raced Monbet and co last Friday, so huge drop in class tonight.

Aussie watch: Both Chase The Dream and Piccadilly Princess make their Australian debuts tonight as lead-ups to group ones next week.

- NZ Herald

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