Racing: Rare chance to see star perform

By Michael Guerin

Waikiki Beach will add some class to the Taylor Mile field. Photo / Harness Racing Victoria
Waikiki Beach will add some class to the Taylor Mile field. Photo / Harness Racing Victoria

One of the great races of the Alexandra Park season has been saved by some cunning co-operation, meaning Auckland race fans will get a rare opportunity to see pacing hero Lazarus.

The champion hasn't raced in Auckland for over 13 months, his last outing resulting in an effortless Northern Derby win in March last year.

Since then he has taken the Australasian pacing scene by storm, winning the New Zealand Cup in record time, the Victoria Cup, Chariots of Fire, NZ Free-For-All and added another Derby.

But none of those have meant a trip to Auckland, with his only northern start since the Northern Derby being in the Flying Mile at Cambridge in January.

That drought was in danger of continuing this week too as the Auckland Trotting Club initially only received four entries for Friday night's $100,000 Taylor Mile.

While the ATC tries to run its best races even with small fields, four would have tested their resolve, especially with Lazarus likely to stifle betting on the group one.

Firstly trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stepped in, obviously keen to get the race off the ground, transferring stablemate Golden Goddess from her original 2700m standing start target.

Then that mare's owners Merv and Meg Butterworth allowed their low grade pacer Pavarotti to be included in the Mile, even though he will be racing miles out of his grade and is a legitimate 500-1 chance.

So after some shuffling the inaccurately-named race - the Mile is actually a 1700m mobile - will be held. It would have been a shame to lose the Taylor as it was for a long time New Zealand's most important mile, before the Jewels came along at Ashburton and Cambridge and the national mile record book was torn to shreds.

Eight out of the last 14 Taylor Mile winners have gone on to win either a New Zealand or Auckland Cup or the Miracle Mile.

While Lazarus will be red hot on Friday at least he has the widest draw and is possibly not as dominant over sprint trips, although he does have two sub 1:50 miles to his name this season.

Co-trainer Rasmussen said while moving Golden Goddess to the Mile was done to help get the race off the ground, the high-quality mare loses little from her change of plans.

"She has a good draw and she will be competitive," said Rasmussen.

"She is mainly up in Auckland because it is hard to get races for her and she was going to start in the handicap, which has The Orange Agent in it anyway.

"She needs money to earn her way into Jewels contention, if she ends up going there, and she can get some good money this week."

In fact it is hard to see how Golden Goddess won't earn at least between $5000 and $10,000 for a third or fourth placing and after her win at Addington last Saturday that would take her a long way up the Jewels leader board.

But her connections have still not decided whether they may head to Melbourne for the same series of mares' races as The Orange Agent next month, so those who fancy her in the Jewels markets should be careful. While saving the Taylor Mile gives Friday's meeting the hero factor of Lazarus, it is a wonderful card regardless, with some welcome returns from Australia boosting the $100,000 Anzac Cup.

Sunny Ruby is back after a hugely successful summer alongside Great Things Happen while High Gait joins the Dickie stable for a short campaign before heading to stud.

The Sires' Stakes Trot sees Enghien draw the second line, which evens things up nicely, while the juvenile pacing fillies get serious for the first time in the $110,000 Caduceus Club Classic.

Taylor Mile

$100,000, 1700m, Alexandra Park 8.46pm Friday

1: Max Phactor

2: Golden Goddess

3: Pavarotti

4: Waikiki Beach

5: Arden's Choice

6: Lazarus

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 24 May 2017 15:01:12 Processing Time: 608ms