AFTER three months of speculation and three rounds of heat, everything remains as it was at the beginning – Lazarus is the one to beat in Friday’s Inter Dominion Final at Gloucester Park.
The highest listed contender when first rankings were released last September, Lazarus has been favourite for the $1.1million decider for 98 per cent of the time.
His status as the hot shot was briefly relinquished following his second behind Soho Tribeca in the opening heat, but the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained stallion quickly regained the top position.
Fresh from his record breaking win in the third round, Lazarus is been installed a $2.10 chance after drawing well in barrier two with TAB Fixed Odds – down from his $2.40 pre-draw quote.
Pleased with the five-year-old’s progress, Purdon has no doubt Lazarus is ready to emulate Smolda’s heroics in last season’s time honoured Championship.
Also driven by Purdon, Smolda scored from Hectorjayjay and Beaudiene Boaz.
The latter two are trained by David Aiken and Gary Hall, who will once again be represented by major threats to Purdon’s bid for consecutive titles.
In fact, Purdon believes Hall’s classy pacer, Chicago Bull, is the biggest danger after drawing the inside of the second row.
Aiken has Lennytheshark in the field, with the 2015 champion to begin from six.
“It’s a very good draw for Lazarus,” Purdon said. “He has come through the heats in fine shape and I’m very pleased with him.
“He was a little tired after the third round, but this morning I him trained quietly and felt really good…he has brightened right up.
“He will have another nice hit out on Wednesday, nothing too strenuous.
“I’m confident he goes into the race in great shape and is the one to beat.
“The draw has made it a really interesting race. Chicago Bull looks as though he will gain a really good run, and if can find racing room having done no work, he’ll be the hardest to beat.”
- PAUL COURTS