The man who knows Lazarus best finds it remarkable the superstar pacer is so short for tonight's $40,000 Canterbury Classic at Addington.

While trainer-driver Mark Purdon knows the 4-year-old can win the next stop on the road to the New Zealand Cup, he is adamant some punters may be expecting a little too much of him.

Lazarus has only had one open class start and was a brilliant third after settling back in an almost identical race two weeks ago.

However, there seems to have been an over-reaction in some markets, with the newcomer not only the $2 favourite for tonight's race but the $2.70 top pick in the New Zealand Cup.


"I don't think he deserves that, to be honest," says Purdon.

"He is a wonderful horse and I think he can win this week and the Cup, but is still very new to all this.

"Have Faith In Me and Smolda have been there and done that so I rate them as least as good a chances this week and Have Faith In Me is still the horse to beat in the Cup."

The bookies' even money quote for Lazarus tonight is at least defendable because he was so good last start, won a succession of group ones at very short odds last season and, on paper, has the best draw of the Purdon-Rasmussen star trio.

But Purdon says that later factor may be overplayed.

"There are a few fast beginners out wide and I wouldn't be surprised if Lazarus got crossed early.

"It is one of those races where I really don't have a huge opinion because all three of ours have improved the same amount since their last start and are working about the same.

"So any of them could win, I think it will just come down to luck."

Which makes it hard to justify taking $2 for Lazarus, when you can get $3.50 for Have Faith In Me or $8.50 for Smolda, who never saw clear air last time out.

The race, or course, has far more depth than that though, with Christen Me, Franco Nelson and Lochaburn all good enough to win with the right run.

All four open class races held so far this season have been won by the leader or trailer, with few genuine attackers early in the season so standing start manners and driver attitudes will again be key tonight.

Expect Lazarus and Have Faith In Me to be driven more aggressively than last time but they could still require near-54 second last 800m sectionals to win.

Taking all that into account, a sneaky each-way bet on Smolda makes as much sense valuewise as backing one of the favourites.

Tonight's meeting also hosts a serious open class trot, where Amaretto Sun looks to further his claims to being one of the biggest threats to Monbet in a depleted crop.

He meets some rivals short of their absolute best form but northerner Realmein has done enough at Alexandra Park to be a real threat if he behaves while Alley Way looks a big improver on his last start.

At Alexandra Park, the trotters also hold centre stage with Aussie visitor Kyvalley Blur making his New Zealand debut and good enough to win tonight, especially as he has race fitness and a huge amount of mobile start experience on his side.

Trotting tips

• Best bet: Accumulator (Alex Park, R3): Nearly won Sires' Stakes heat last start and drops back to maidens here.

• Visitor victory: Kyvalley Blur (Alex Park, R6): Might be able to overcame tricky draw early and then class should tell.

• Forgotten: Smolda: (Addington, R7): Hunter Cup winner whose manners could make him the value against the young upstarts.