Champion New Zealand pacer Lazarus has had a change of plans and Victoria has been the big winner.

The New Zealand Cup hero returned with an effortless win in the $60,000 Flying Mile at Cambridge on Friday night and was set to head to Sydney and then Melbourne for a series of races culminating in the Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 25.

But while the glamour Sydney sprint is still his ultimate aim, Victoria will now be his first, and longest, stop.

Lazarus will head there on Wednesday with stablemates Have Faith In Me and Titan Banner, and could even race as early as the Shepparton Cup next Saturday.


He was originally going to Sydney first to qualify for the Chariots of Fire at Menangle on February 11 but co-trainer Mark Purdon will instead use the Bonanza at Melton on February 4 as his qualifying race for the Chariots.

That cuts down on travel criss-crossing Australia but Lazarus will need another run before the A$450,000 Victoria Cup on January 28.

"I am thinking about taking him to Ballarat a week before the Victoria Cup, and maybe even starting him in the free-for-all that night instead of the Cup," said Purdon.

"But the Shepparton Cup could possibly be an option for him or one of the other horses.
"It comes to mind because otherwise Lazarus will have to race four Saturdays in a row." So Lazarus could have three runs in Victoria now rather than just one, which will thrill local officials who also have Titan Banner, Have Faith In Me, Rocker Band, Jack's Legend and at least three topline trotters heading to their carnival to clash with the likes of Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay.

Waiting for his Kiwi mates in Victoria will be Smolda, who kept himself ticking over with a typically brave win in the A$100,000 South Australia Cup on Saturday night.

The Inter Dominion champion didn't look entirely comfortable on the tight track but still outstayed Jilliby Jagger, breaking the track record set by his own sire Courage Under Fire.

Remarkably for a New Zealand pacer, Smolda has now won group one races on five different Australian racetracks.

But one horse who won't be joining the Australian assault is More The Better, winner of Friday night's Waikato Guineas.

He was booked for the Victoria Derby but will stay home and concentrate on the Northern Derby at Alexandra Park, leaving stablemate Vincent to concentrate on the Victorian classic.

And Franco Nelson's winless Australian summer is over after he stopped badly after leading in the Freemantle Cup on Friday night, meaning he will return to New Zealand.