Racing: Lazarus must match superstars

By Michael Guerin

Lazarus has opened odds-on with some bookies to win the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday. Photo / Michael Craig
Lazarus has opened odds-on with some bookies to win the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday. Photo / Michael Craig

The prince of pacing is now red hot to do what only the greatest have done before.

Lazarus has opened odds-on with some bookies to win the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday, victory in which could push him close to $2 favouritism in the New Zealand Cup on November 8.

Monday's standing start 2400m feature has long been the most crucial form trial for the Cup but the New Zealand TAB hadn't opened its market for it last night.

The Australian TAB did and they had Lazarus a $1.60 win hope over stablemates Smolda ($3.50) and Have Faith In Me ($4.20).

Lazarus is already as short as $2.20 with most bookies to win the Cup in a few weeks so surely moves close to a $2 quote if he justifies the shock $1.60 odds on Monday.

A 4-year-old winning the Flying Stakes and New Zealand Cup is not just rare, the last one to do was an icon. That was Christian Cullen 18 years ago and even he paid $2.35 on the tote in the Flying Stakes, giving you some perspective on how tight Lazarus's $1.60 quote is.

So the winner of 16 of his 19 starts and unlucky in the other three, Lazarus is going to need to walk in the hoof prints of the greats to justify his super slim odds.

He has come up with barrier two on Monday, with Christen Me (4), Smolda (6) and Have Faith In Me on the unruly, which may not be as big a disadvantage with only eight starters.

Sandwiched between the favourites is last season's three-time group one winning 4-year-old Field Marshal, who resumes for the season but with a new driver as Blair Orange fills in for Dexter Dunn, who is committed to Christen Me.

The race will have an enormous bearing in the market for the New Zealand Cup, with only Franco Nelson, Titan Banner and Messini missing out of the realistic Cup chances.

It headlines a superstar day which also sees the return of Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess and a truck load of the All Stars promising young pacers but the other key pre-Cup carnival match-up for the day is the Flying Mile Trot.

It sees Monbet drawn seven in his comeback race, giving him the advantage over last season's champion 3-year-old Marcoola, who will have to overcome a second-line draw in his first open class start.

- NZ Herald

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