There is an obvious question following the mind-blowing winning performance from Lazarus in today’s (Tuesday) Gr.1 $765,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington.
Did Lazarus just race himself into harness racing immortality?
As far as New Zealand Cup history goes, it’s an overwhelming yes!
Where do you start when breaking down this staggering effort – Was it the time, winning margin, the dominance, the arrogance, the brilliance or was it the rare Mark Purdon victory salute?
Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.
The winning performance was that of a champion and while he’s still fresh-faced, he delivered on the biggest stage possible when the entire world takes notice of Cup day at Addington, he simply embarrassed his rivals and left his biggest fan gob smacked.
Mark Purdon doesn’t show emotion, but it poured out of him today.
When the field stood behind the tapes at the 3200m start point, Lazarus was feverishly still being punted upon by eager fans who forced the brilliant four-year-old into very cramped odds, so much so, his official starting price is one of the shortest in the modern era.
But those punters had nothing to fear, it was a painless process which took just 3:53.1.
It was the fastest time ever recorded in the history of the great race, easily eclipsing the previous best mark of champion mare Adore Me at 3:54.6 – a mare previously prepared by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.
And the winning margin of 10 lengths had seasoned racegoers racking their brains but put simply, it’s the biggest winning margin in the modern era which clearly demonstrates the rugged beating he handed his helpless rivals.
After making a safe but steady start, Purdon allowed Tiger Tara and Smolda to battle for early supremacy which the latter won before Lazarus was sprung into action.
Following a brief tussle, Lazarus took control of the race before basically erasing any chance his rivals had of winning the race with 1600m left to run.
The lead time was covered in 1:57.6.
As the field approached the 1200m point, moves from back in the field came via No Doctor Need, Have Faith In Me and Christen Me.
The first half of the final mile was posted in 30.7 and 29 seconds.
Lazarus held a commanding lead while Christen Me faced the breeze with Smolda and Have Faith In Me lurking close-by.
As the field passed the 700m marker, Have Faith In Me raced roughly in the trail and broke, therefore losing all chance but also enabling Tiger Tara to shake loose from a pocket.
At the top of the straight, Purdon kicked away while Christen Me, Smolda, Tiger Tara and Franco Nelson launched their respective runs.
But they were simply chasing the widening shadow of Lazarus who obliterated his rivals with his emphatic display of speed and power.
At the line, Lazarus scored from Tiger Tara while Titan Banner stormed home for third place.
The final half covered in 28.4 and 27.1 seconds.
The mile rate was 1:57.2 while the final mile was covered in 1:55.2.
With the Purdon/Rasmussen partnership providing four runners, they finished with the winner plus 3rd, 4th and 13th.
The victory provided Purdon with his 4th winning Cup drive following Il Vicolo (1995/96) and Adore Me (2014).
“That was freakish; it would have to be the greatest I reckon.” Purdon stated.
Lazarus is raced by Phil & Glenys Kennard, Kevin Riseley and Trevor Casey.
His winner’s share ($397,500) of the $750,000 purse takes Lazarus' earnings over the $1.35m mark.
Lazarus, bred by Brian West of Studholme Bloodstock and Gavin Chin, was a $75,000 purchase from the 2014 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale.
And the winning effort of Lazarus provides champion sire Bettors Delight with his third straight NZ Cup hero following Adore Me and Arden Rooney last year.
The second leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit heads to Gloucester Park in Perth for the running of the $1.1 million TABTouch Inter Dominion on December 9.