Lazarus at his Peak, Says Purdon

“He’s in the zone and at the top of his game and I don’t think that any horse can beat him,” declared a supremely confident New Zealand trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon when assessing the prospects of superstar five-year-old Lazarus in the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“You have always got to respect the opposition, but with everything being equal, I don’t think that he can be beaten.”

Purdon, New Zealand’s champion trainer and driver, is also looking forward keenly to the clash between Lazarus and his outstanding four-year-old stablemate Ultimate Machete, who will be handled by star driver Natalie Rasmussen.

“They have never met in a race, but I don’t expect Ultimate Machete to be able to beat Lazarus,” said Purdon.

Ultimate Machete and Lazarus are by super sire Bettors Delight, who is also the sire of six of the other ten Cup runners Chicago Bull, Bettors Fire, Ohoka Punter, Devendra, Galactic Star and Motu Premier.

“I’m happy with both Lazarus and Ultimate Machete,” Purdon said. “They had a quiet hoppled run on Monday and all is well. I don’t expect either of them to have the gate speed to get to the front in the early stages. I expect Ultimate Machete to take up a forward position, while I’ll drive Lazarus like a normally do by giving him time to settle and then work him forward.”

Ultimate Machete is the youngest and least experienced runner in the race, with 12 wins and ten placings from 24 starts. He has won at ten of his past 13 starts, including stylish victories at his three appearances at Gloucester Park.

Between them, the 12 Cup runners have won 270 races and been placed 240 times for combined earnings of $10,380,689. Lazarus shows the way with 34 wins and seven placings for stakes of $3,330,438 from 41 starts.

He won the TABtouch Inter Dominion final five Fridays ago when he settled in fifth place and then was sent forward, three wide, after a lap to race in the breeze outside Tiger Tara before surging to the front at the 100m and winning easily from Chicago Bull at a 1.57.6 rate over 2936m.

At his previous outing, a week earlier, he smashed Im Themightyquinn’s track record, rating 1.54.5 over 2536m, when he settled in eighth place and made a fast three-wide move into the breeze before getting to the front with 1450m to travel on his way to victory over stablemate Have Faith In Me.

Then last Friday night he was not extended in winning at a 1.55.9 rate over 2536m (the distance of the Fremantle Cup) and scoring by four lengths over the fast-finishing Motu Premier.

Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper is hoping that it will be a case of fifth time lucky for Bettors Fire on Friday night. The nine-year-old Bettors Fire greatly enhanced his prospects when he drew the prized No. 1 barrier on the front line.

Harper said that Bettors Fire was in peak condition and was ready to run a big race. “I intend to take advantage of his gate speed and aim to set the pace,” Harper said. “He’s got the right barrier and I expect him to run a bold race out in front.”

Bettors Fire warmed up for Friday night’s assignment with a dashing all-the-way victory over Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull, rating 1.52.6 in the 1730m Village Kid Sprint last Friday week when he revealed sparkling early speed to burst straight to the front from barrier seven.

A winner of 33 races, Bettors Fire is the only pacer to have run in the past four Fremantle Cups for a second to Im Victorious in 2014, fourth to David Hercules (2015), third to Beaudiene Boaz (2016) and an eye-catching fourth behind Chicago Bull last year when he charged home from 11th at the bell.