LAZARUS AND CHRISTEN ME LIKELY TO CHASE DIFFERENT TARGETS
New Zealand Cup week champion Lazarus and former NZ Harness Horse of the Year Christen Me are unlikely to see much of each other for a while.
News from Addington yesterday that Mark Purdon, who co-trains Lazarus with Natalie Rasmussen, is warming to the idea of a Victoria Cup campaign with his champion in late January means he is likely to fresh and bypass the $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup on December 31.
That gives Christen Me, the former dual Australasian Grand Cicuit champion, some chance of winning a second Auckland Cup after the two top pacers produced a spirited clash in the $260,000 Woodlands New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington on Show day, November 11.
“Christen Me won’t go to Australia. We’ll go to Auckland as there isn’t a lot else for him,” said trainer Cran Dalgety.
The 8YO Christen Me showed his legs remain lively in Friday’s NZ Free-For-All, but Lazarus, half his age, again showed superior form at the business end.
A former winner of the race himself two years ago, Christen Me and regular driver Dexter Dunn made for an entertaining race by making the most of drawing inside Lazarus over the 1950m sprint.
Dexter parked out Mark Purdon on Lazarus and put the 2016 star to the sword when he tried to beat him off at the 400m.
Christen Me had a length on Lazarus at the 300m but the latter found his champion qualities, knuckling to the chase turning for home.
Just inside the 200m, Lazarus had picked up the leader fairly quickly and went on by to score by 1 3/4 lengths in a record 2:16.3 for the 1950m, a terrific 1:52.4 mile rate on a cool day.
Lazarus rose to the occasion over the leaders last 800m in 55.7s and final 400m in 27.4s, taking his impeccable record to 19 wins and three placings from 22 starts for nearly $1.5 million in stakes.
Christen Me fought well when headed to hold down second, half a head in front of the trailing Tiger Tara, with Mossdale Conner, three back from the inside of the second row, doing best of the rest, a further half head away.
Meanwhile, dominant trotter Monbet again ruled, this time taking out the Group One $265,200 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion Trot, also in record-breaking time.
The Greg and Nina Hope-trained Monbet smashed the NZ 3200m trot record with a brilliant run of 4:00.7 (2:01 mile rate) on the revamped immaculate sand-based all-weather at Addington, which let to records galore for the week.
This was 2.2 seconds inside the previous best set by Stylish Monarch when taking out the 2010 Dominion.
Driver Ricky May had the hot favourite four places back on the outer on settling and made his move, improving with three wide cover beginning the last 1600m.
He ran to third at the 500m and levelled to strong front-runner Bordeaux (Dexter Dunn) turning for home and went on by.
Monbet’s stablemate Quite A Moment ran the race of her life by running the winner to three-quarters of a length, with Aussie raider Kyvalley Blur, prepared and driven by expatriate Cantabs in Brent Lilley and Anthony Butt, running on for third, ahead of Bordeaux, and a third Hope-trained runner Harrysul.
Monbet, a 5YO Love You gelding, took his record to 23 wins from 34 starts for $770,714 in stakes for the Hopes’, who race him with long-time stable supporter, Maurie Molloy.
The Kentuckiana Lodge team picked up solid thirds with Donegal Bettorgretch and Baileys Rock in the latter half of the Show day programme.
Donegal Bettorgretch had to work from the outside gate in the C2-3 trot over 1950m, moving up parked outside Cup day winner Lothario, who was too good again, coming clear by 2 1/2 lengths in a smart 1:57.4 rate (1950m).
The stable ended the day on a positive note with lightly-raced Baileys Rock running on stoutly for third behind the favoured duo of Vincent(AUS) and Jack’s Legend in the final event, the C1 XCM Sport Mobile Pace.
Winner Vincent(AUS), a beaten favourite behind stablemate Thefixer on Tuesday for the All Stars stable, made no mistake on Friday, taking up the front-running role and clearing out by six lengths from Sires Stakes placegetter Jack’s Legend, who gave him a big start beginning the last lap.
Baileys Rock, from the outside of the second row, settled beyond midfield and from fourth to last turning for home, charged late to grab third, being race-timed in 3:12.3 (2600m).
By Jeff Scott