It’s a knockout.
The triumphant performance of New Zealand pacer Lazarus in tonight’s (Saturday) Gr.1 $400,000 Eynesbury Victoria Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton had to be seen to be believed after he embarrassed his rivals in the 2240m feature.
It was eerily similar to his New Zealand Cup thrashing back in November when successful by an ever expanding margin.
The brilliant pacer joins only Sinbad Bay and Holmes DG as winners of the Victoria Cup as a four-year-old.
Starting as a clear favourite after landing gate six, Lazarus ($1.50 fav) pushed hard from the gate and found a forward position early before Purdon allowed the Bettors Delight entire to stride freely down the back straight on the first occasion to take the lead from Major Crocker with a mile left to travel.
The lead time was covered in 44.2 seconds.
With Mach Doro galloping wildly at release point and then Hectorjayjay also making a rare error, the race took on a completely different look in comparison to most speed maps.
Many thought the race was over once Lazarus found the front.
Lazarus travelled strongly in front and covered the first half of the final mile in splits of 30 and 28.6 seconds.
Bling It On worked clear from the inside and moved around the outside while Allblack Stride also made a mid-race move before Hectorjayjay charged around to sit parked over the final lap.
At this point, rivals were chasing in vain.
Entering the back straight, Lazarus powered along in front leaving rivals starting to feel the pinch while others jostled for better positions.
The third quarter was covered in 27.4 seconds.
At the top of the home straight, Purdon lifted the reins and his star pupil left his rivals tapping out as he inflicted more pain with a scintillating final sectional.
He finished off his rivals with a 26.4 final split.
Lazarus defeated Major Crocker ($81.80) by 12m while Bling It On ($14.20) grabbed third a further 7.7m away.
The final mile was clocked in 1:52.4.
The race time was 2:36.6 – a mile rate of 1:52.5 which easily eclipsed the previous race record of Smoken Up who set a mark of 1:53.4 when successful in 2011.
It also smashed the track record which previously belonged to All Eyes On Us at 1:53.2.
“He’s a very special horse, perhaps the greatest I’ve ever trained.” Purdon stated immediately after the race.
The victory was his third in the event following previous victories with Young Rufus (2003) and Brabham (1998 – trainer).
The winning effort also elevates Lazarus to a clear lead in the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit with 200 points following his victories in both the New Zealand and Victoria Cups; his stablemates Smolda (120) and Our Dream About Me (100) are next.
Perth pacer Chicago Bull has also amassed 100 points.
Only two legs of the APG Grand Circuit remain this season.
Next week, the Gr.1 $500,000 Del Re National Hunter Cup takes place; the 2700m mobile event will be staged at Melton.