New Zealand's best pacer has been stunningly left out of markets for the Harness Jewels, even though he is still a chance to start there.

In a shock for fans of the champion pacer, Lazarus has not been listed in the market for the four-year-old Emerald even though he hasn't been withdrawn from the series.

The TAB opened markets on the three and four-year-old divisions of the Jewels on Sunday with Lazarus surprisingly not there even though he will be a $1.30 chance at best if he starts.

There is no mention of Lazarus in the market conditions so it is not a market with him excluded as a winning chance - or favourite-out betting, as it is known.

Advertisement

Instead the TAB bookies have simply not included him in their initial market because they expect him not to start, instead having his stablemate Heaven Rocks the $1.55 favourite.

"We have heard he is unlikely to start and we would rather leave him out than have people backing him and have him not start," said TAB bookie Richard Wilson.

Wilson may well be right, with Lazarus not expected to make the June 3 race as trainer Mark Purdon says he could be spelling by then to prepare for his huge season next term.

But Purdon told the Herald that is anything but certain.

"I don't think he will start but we definitely haven't ruled him out," says Purdon.

"He is off to Auckland for the Taylor Mile and the Messenger and then he will probably be finished.

"But things could change.

"He has some of the same owners as Heaven Rocks and Waikiki Beach and if something happened to them in the next month then they might want Laz to go to the Jewels, Purdon said.

"So we definitely won't be withdrawing him from Jewels contention any time soon, after all, that decision doesn't have to be made for at least a month."

Which means punters who bet in the four-year-old division could find out in a month Purdon has changed his mind - as he often does - and Lazarus is starting and all of a sudden is a red hot favourite and they have taken huge unders on other horses.

By comparison, the main Australian TABs do have Lazarus listed in their Jewels futures book as a $1.50 favourite, with Heaven Rocks at $3.50. The pre-emptive removal of the NZ Cup winner from the market gets even stranger because punters can ring the TAB and ask for a price on horses not listed.

If one did so - you might want to try this if you are bored - then Lazarus would surely have to be listed as the favourite and the entire market would be turned on its head.

While Lazarus is unlikely to head to the Jewels but still possible, his Auckland Cup-winning stablemate Dream About Me definitely won't be there.

The stable have conceded defeat in their battle with hoof issues and she is out for the remainder of the season.

"The hoof thing wasn't healing as we wanted and to make matters worse she then started to get other issues, probably from off-loading pressure from the hoof.

"So she is out until next season, when the New Zealand Cup will be her big aim."

She was the $1.35 favourite for the four-year-old Diamond.

The TAB markets are all listed as "Australian out", meaning if Australian horses are invited and win - which has never happened - then the payout will be on the first New Zealand-trained horse home.

The two leading Australian chances to come are both now very unlikely.

Fillies Petacular and My Sweetchilliphilly are both having a break after tough recent campaigns before being aimed at series like the Breeders Crown later in the season.

That leaves two Australians confirmed for the series so far in Rockstar Angel (four-year-old pacing mares) and juvenile trotter One Muscle Hill, who is already in Canterbury.

Pre-post punt

• Markets for six of the Harness Jewels are open.

• Lazarus has been left out as TAB bookies expect him to not start.

• Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me is definitely going to miss the Jewels.

• The two-year-old markets are expected to open next week.