The 2017 TABtouch Inter Dominion Series is set to come to an exciting conclusion this Friday night, the 8th December, at Gloucester Park in Perth, Western Australia.
Over the first week of the series there were three rounds of heats and these have culminated in the top ten points scorers reaching the Group 1 $1,100,000 TABtouch Inter Dominion Grand Final over 2936m, set to start at 8:00pm (1:00am NZ Time).
Somewhat disappointingly, there were only two New Zealand trained representatives in the series, but both have managed to make it through to the Grand Final. Lazarus has qualified at equal No.3 with 36 points, along with ex-pat Kiwi Tiger Tara and Have Faith In Me just scrapes into the field after finishing in equal No.10 with 19 points.
While there are only two New Zealand trained horses in the Series, it is a real accomplishment for the NZ Breeding industry that six of the 10 finalists are NZ-bred, as well as two of the Emergencies in Ohoka Punter and The Bucket List.
Lazarus had two 2nd placings and a win in the three rounds of heats, while Have Faith In Me could only manage a 9th, a 5th and a 2nd. One of the local representatives Soho Tribeca had two wins and a 2nd placing in the heats, to lead the points table with 39 points and be ranked at No.1.
Final points standings are:-
|SOHO TRIBECA (WA)||39||1|
|CHICAGO BULL NZ (WA)||37||2|
|LAZARUS NZ (NZ)||36||3|
|TIGER TARA NZ (NSW)||36||3|
|SAN CARLO (VIC)||29||6|
|GALACTIC STAR NZ (NSW)||29||6|
|SHANDALE NZ (WA)||22||8|
|VULTAN TIN (WA)||21||9|
|HAVE FAITH IN ME NZ (NZ)||19||10|
The barrier draws for the Final have now made for a very fair and intriguing race, with the pre-post hot favourite being the New Zealand superstar Lazarus at $1.90 for the win on the fixed odds market. The second ranked, NZ-bred Chicago Bull, is currently the second favourite for the race at $4.00, with No.1 ranked Soho Tribeca on the fourth line of betting at $6.50.
Of course, last year’s champion Smolda has been retired and is not in this series, like in fact any other runner from last year’s Grand Final; they’re all missing. The 2015 Champion Lennytheshark drawn out at No.6 is sitting on the fifth line of betting at $14.00.
The Grand Final field is:-
|1||TIGER TARA NZ (NSW)||Kevin Pizzuto||Todd McCarth|
|2||LAZARUS NZ (NZ)||Mark Purdon||Mark Purdon|
|3||VULTAN TIN (WA)||Phil Costello||Chris Voak|
|4||SOHO TRIBECA (WA)||Kim Prentice||Kim Prentice|
|5||GALACTIC STAR NZ (NSW)||Skye Bond||Ryan Warwick|
|6||LENNYTHESHARK (VIC)||David Aiken||Chris Alford|
|7||SAN CARLO (VIC)||Stephen O’Donoghue||Rebecca Bartley|
|8||SHANDALE NZ (WA)||Mike Reed||Shannon Suvaljko|
|9||HAVE FAITH IN ME NZ (NZ)||Mark Purdon||Chris Lewis|
|10||CHICAGO BULL NZ (WA)||Gary Hall Snr||Gary Hall Jnr|
|11||OHOKA PUNTER NZ (Em.1)||Gary Hall Snr|
|12||DEVENDRA (Em.2)||Todd Rattray||Todd Rattray|
|13||MAJOR CROCKER (Em.3)||Vince Vallelonga||Greg Sugars|
|14||THE BUCKET LIST (Em.4)||Michael Brennan||Michael Grantha|
Over recent years Inter Dominion Grand Final favourites have a good record, including Lennytheshark two years ago, as well as Beautide (2-time winner), Im Themightyquinn (3-time winner), Blacks A Fake (4-time winner), Elsu, etc, but last year’s winner Smolda was only 5th favourite for his race.
It remains to be seen whether Lazarus can add his name to this great list and what will eventuate at the start, as this may determine the outcome at the business end of the race, but regardless, the race is set to be a great spectacle once again.
With Lazarus’ record-breaking win under a hold in the last round of heats, where he ran a 1:54.5 Mile Rate for the 2536m journey beating champion pacer Im Themightyquinn’s previous mark set in a 2013 Inter Dominion heat and the fact that he has got better with each run in the series, does make him look the one they all have to beat, but at this level of course, it is never easy. Chicago Bull, with the right run, does look to be Lazarus’ biggest threat and Tiger Tara with his gate speed and ace draw is sure to make it a true contest.
Mark Purdon said of Lazarus’ last training run at Pinjarra on Wednesday morning, “He felt good and strong” and added, “He’s handled the series easy. Lazarus; he set a track record and won untouched and he was a little tired on the Sunday, but he certainly recovered quick. I was thrilled [with the draw]. It gives us options and I think they’ll hold-up with Tiger Tara and that seems pretty evident and there’s a couple in there that will come out of the gate, so he’s going to settle handier than he has in the heats. It [the distance] will suit him. He’s a good stayer and it certainly will suit him. Chicago Bull is the one to beat.”
It is certainly a star-studded field and probably the best that could be assembled. The ten runners in the field have won 224 races and $10,746,880 in stakes between them, an amazing average of $1,074,688 per starter. There are five millionaires in the race and the Southern Hemispheres fastest ever pacer in Have Faith In Me (1:47.5 when winning the 2016 Miracle Mile). Lazarus has the highest tally of Group One race wins, with 13 in total and has amassed an absolutely incredible record in Group or Listed Races of 31 starts, for 26 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds, thus having never missed a place at this level in his career.
Should Lazarus triumph, he will become the richest offspring of champion sire Bettor’s Delight, anywhere in the world, with the win taking his total stakes to $3,317,139. Bettor’s Delight has sired 33 individual millionaires with 19 of these bred in the USA, 12 in New Zealand and two in Australia. The richest son of Bettor’s Delight is currently the American bred stallion All Bets Off with $2,932,554, but will all this change on Friday night?
As well as the $1,100,000 TABtouch Inter Dominion Grand Final, supporting races on the night include the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget for 4-year-olds, featuring a hot favourite ($1.12) Ultimate Machete, also from the New Zealand barn of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, as well as a staggering seven other NZ-bred runners in the field of twelve and the $125,000 Westral Mares Classic featuring New Zealand’s A Piccadilly Princess, also an All Stars stable member and another 8 NZ-bred runners, so the NZ Breeding industry is set for a huge night.
We wish all connections the very best of luck, and of course especially Glenys & Philip Kennard, Trevor Casey (who are all members of Breckon Farms Syndicates) and Kevin Riseley, the owners of Lazarus, and Glenys and Philip once again, together with G Douglas, Kevin Riseley and Phil & Margaret Creighton, who own the other strong New Zealand hope Ultimate Machete.
We now look forward to watching the exciting night’s racing into the wee small hours here in New Zealand.