Tiger Tara's incredible run to the New Zealand Trotting Cup hit some serious turbulence yesterday that has seen the Aussie star almost double in price for next week's great race.
Tiger Tara has already placed in two New Zealand Cups and an amazing series of events this year seemed to be conspiring to help him finally get to the promised land.
The sale of nemesis Lazarus to the US came after budding champion Vincent was retired because of injury then a succession of pacing's big names were sidelined one by one — Lennytheshark, My Field Marshal, Jilliby Kung Fu and then finally and most brutally last week Chicago Bull.
That left a rock hard fit Tiger Tara looking every inch the Cup winner, especially after a huge win in the Victoria Cup last month. Until yesterday.
Because the NSW iron horse drew the second line for the 3200m Cup at Addington next Tuesday, a draw made significantly worse by the fact the four Purdon-Rasmussen representatives most favoured behind Tiger Tara in the pre-draw market all drew well on the front line. And it got worse for trainer Kevin Pizzuto.
Tiger Tara follows out Cruz Bromac at the start, a horse Pizzuto used to train and one of the worst standing starters on the front line.
"I didn't want the second line and I definitely didn't want to be following out Cruz Bromac, that is for sure," said Pizzuto.
"That is not good at all and it will now be up to Todd (McCarthy, driver) to get some sort of run with him.
"I am happy with the horse, I think he is bigger and stronger than last season but we didn't need that."
Bookmakers agreed, with even the Australian TAB doubling Tiger Tara's price from $3.50 to $7, with three Purdon-Rasmussen trained runners now more favoured.
Dream About Me (barrier five) and Thefixer (barrier one) look set to battle for favouritism, while Cruz Bromac has tightened after securing barrier two, although it may not help him all that much.
Tiger Tara wasn't the only one-time favourite for a group one on Tuesday to cop a second line draw, with unbeaten three-year-old Ultimate Sniper to start from two on the second line in the $170,000 Sires' Stakes Final.
But while he only has 1980m to make up that disadvantage he still looks better off than Tiger Tara as he follows out a quick beginner and his last start victory suggested he has lengths on most of his opponents.
He still may have to sit parked for the last 1000m to win but will be odds-on to do so.
Northern trotters Speeding Spur (barrier three) and Lemond (one) were the big winners in the draw for the $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All, which disappointingly is being bypassed by many of the trotting stars as they don't want to be flattened before the $300,000 Dominion three days later.
The field for the $800,000 Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup at 5.12pm next Tuesday is:
2: Cruz Bromac
3: Eamon Maguire
4: Star Galleria
5: Dream About Me
6: A G's White Socks
7: Billy Badger
8: Jack's Legend
9: Captain Dolmio
10: Forgotten Highway
12: James Dream (em1)
13: Tiger Tara
15: Queen Bee Bardon (em3)
17: Alta Orlando
18: Baileys Knight (em2)