He came, he saw, he conquered.
That was the story of the third and last Inter Dominion Championship to be held at Gloucester Park last Friday night when New Zealand superstar Lazarus cemented his place as the best pacer in the southern hemisphere with a commanding victory in the $1.1M grand final.
After losing his first two heats, the detractors were out in force.
“Lazarus isn’t invincible,” one pundit exclaimed.
“He’s struggling around the tight GP circuit ... he’s vulnerable when he has to race off the pegs,” another so-called expert wailed.
Lazarus, the well-supported $1.90 favourite, put paid to those arguments with a freakish performance to down WA’s Chicago Bull ($4.70) by four metres.
Sydneysider Tiger Tara ($7.20), who led for most of the 2936m journey, finished third.
Lazarus’ trainer/driver Mark Purdon drove the perfect race.
He allowed Lazarus to amble out of the mobile at release point and was content to sit in sixth position for about a lap.
When the pace slackened, Purdon slipped Lazarus some rein and the champion Kiwi quickly moved to the death seat outside of Tiger Tara.
Chicago Bull had the perfect run following Tiger Tara, while Lennytheshark was in the one-out one-back spot with Soho Tribeca following him.
WA’s Vultan Tin was given every chance by Chris Voak in a lovely trailing position, three back the pegs.
The pattern remained the same until going down the back straight the final time.
That’s when Purdon asked Lazarus for an effort and he seemed to be coasting as he laid down the gauntlet to Tiger Tara.
Coming to the turn, Purdon still had a hold on Lazarus and had a cheeky look at where Chicago Bull was.
He gave Lazarus full bore in the straight and to the cheers of the big on-course crowd the five-year-old entire raced away with the Inters crown - Purdon’s second in a row after winning with Smolda last year.
The reserved Purdon even had time to raise his whip to the crowd in salute as Lazarus stamped his credentials as one of the best horses ever to grace Gloucester Park.
“He’s a champion this horse,” Purdon said as the horses came back to scale.
“Lazarus has proven tonight that he’s the best horse I’ve trained.
“He’s a super horse ... he’s relaxed and a true professional, only doing what he needs to win.
“I was confident in the run. I knew we were going better than Tiger Tara going down the back straight after the bell.”
The win takes Lazarus’ career record to 40 starts for 33 wins and seven placings and his career earnings climb to $3,317,139.
He has never been beaten when he’s led in his races and has never finished out of the placings.
The win was Lazarus’s 14th win in a Group 1 race taking him past the 13 Group 1 victories recorded by Im Themightyquinn and Village Kid.
The champion Kiwi is now also within striking distance of the prize money records of Blacks A Fake (Australia), Im Themightyquinn and Monkey King (New Zealand).
And the good news for WA harness racing fans is that Lazarus will remain in Perth to contest next month’s $300,000 Fremantle Pacing Cup (2536m) on January 12 and the $450,000 WA Pacing Cup (2936m) a week later.
Lazarus will then travel to Victoria for the Hunter Cup and finish his campaign in Sydney with the running of the Miracle Mile.
Purdon completed a race-to-race Group 1 double in the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget with Ultimate Machete to bring up his All Stars team’s 261st Group 1 success.
But on a night that Purdon will remember as being one of the best in his illustrious career, it wasn’t all smiles at the end.
Stewards gave him a 26-day suspension for pushing another runner wide with Ultimate Machete shortly after the start of the Golden Nugget.
The good news is that Purdon will be clear to drive Lazarus in the Fremantle Pacing Cup and the WA Pacing Cup in January.
FOOTNOTE: The finish of the 2017 Inter Dominion Grand Final was also a win for super sire Bettors Delight.
He sired Lazarus, Chicago Bull and Tiger Tara - the first three horses across the line.
The win of Lazarus also makes him the richest-winning progeny of Bettors Delight in the world.
The richest son of Bettors Delight was the American-bred stallion All Bets Off with earnings of $2,932,554, but Lazarus has now overtaken him.