It may be easier said than done but punters should ignore the most stunning form in tonight's $25,000 cracker at Addington.

While returning heroes Have Faith In Me, Smolda and Lazarus have dream formlines trainer Mark Purdon admits they could turn into a nightmare for punters.

The Purdon-Rasmussen trio headline one of the strongest early-season pacing races in years, being joined by Easter Cup winner Locharburn, NZ Cup runner-up Franco Nelson, NZ Free-For-All winner Tiger Tara, $2.3 million earner Christen Me and last season's NZ and Victoria Cup placegetter Mossdale Conner.

So tonight's 2600m standing start is basically a mini New Zealand Cup and the winner of November's great race is almost certainly in there.


The problem for punters is the Purdon-Rasmussen trio in particular are fresh and not fully screwed down, taking on serious group one horses who are, quite simply, fitter.

Which means while the stars of the show have remarkable formlines - Lazarus (10 wins on end), Have Faith In Me (five on end, including Miracle Mile and Auckland Cup) and Smolda (four of past five, including Hunter Cup), they could be beaten without disappointing. "Fresh-up races are always tough for horses in this grade," said Purdon. "Sure, they are there to win but often they can go great and still get beaten.

"They trialled well last week and have improved since but if horses like Locharburn or Franco Nelson lead and run home [800m] in 55 seconds you can go super and still only finish third or fourth. So I am not saying our ones can't win but they could easily all get beaten and we wouldn't be disappointed."

Purdon also warns punters that Lazarus, having his first open class outing, could be the biggest improver out of tonight's race.

"He is a colt and they tend to take a few races, so maybe the other two are a bit more advanced."

Have Faith In Me is the best horse in Australasia but being fresh and on the unruly means even his biggest fans could be wise to wait tonight. Still, if he comes out and wins the New Zealand Cup is his to lose.

Smolda has the manners and ability to win fresh up but is also an eight-year-old, an age where few open class pacers can beat elite race fit rivals so with all three All Stars champs it is a case of buyer beware.

For all the talents of Tiger Tara and Franco Nelson, Locharburn looks the one to beat, particularly if he can work his way to the front and control the tempo. That still leaves the enigma which is Christen Me, the one-time Horse of the Year who has won most of the races that matter but hasn't looked that potent for the past year.


He stunned his All Stars rivals at the Ashburton trials last week - another reason to be careful backing them - and maybe there is still some serious fight left in the old dog.

You can make a case to back him tonight but if you do and he gets beaten it might be the last time.

Tonight's meeting hosts a guaranteed $150,000 Pick6, which looks certain to push closer to $200,000.