Alford chasing 100th Group 1
AMAZINGLY champion driver Chris Alford keeps finding a way to raise the bar.
After more than 35 years in the sulky, Alford, closing in on 51 years of age, has two great strong chances to snare an amazing 100th Group 1 win of his stellar career at Albion Park Saturday night.
Fittingly, both drives are for his now dominant number one supporter, trainer Emma Stewart in the Australian Gold 2YO finals.
Alford drives $3.20 second favourite Jemstone (gate six) against buzz local Pelosi (gate two, $1.90) in the $350,550 Gold fillies’ final.
In the colts and geldings, he is also on the second favourite Be Happy Mach, who is a $6.50 shot against the perfectly-drawn likely leader Jilliby Nitro (gate two, $1.25).
“I feel like a cricketer trying to get his first ton,” Alford said. “It’s a milestone I could never have dreamed of reaching.”
Asked his most special Group 1 wins, Alford sighted two obvious ones and a very personal one.
“If you ask for the absolute one I treasure most, it has to be sharing that Hunter Cup win with Mont Denver Gold with Dad when he really crook. To have Dad their for the presentation that night was so special,” he said.
“That Golden Reign (1995) Inter Dominion win had a lot of special things to it. The controversy, beating the Kiwis over there and, of course, he sits alongside Lennytheshark as the greatest horse I’ve driven.
“Lennytheshark gets a mention to, of course. That Perth Inter Dominion win with him was awesome. We had a really strong connection. He was a great horse to me.”
Alford has won six Gold 2YO finals, starting with Golden Reign’s huge upset in the 1992 colts and geldings final at Harold Park.
His other wins have come with Espeshlimade Lombo (2001), Lombo La Fe Fe (2002), Amongst Royalty (2006), Queen Of Pop (2014) and Centenario (last year).