Alford's birthday wish
By Adam Hamilton
PUNTERS think champion driver Chris Alford’s 51st birthday will be extra special at Melton on Saturday night.
Alford is perched on 99 Group 1 career wins after missing out reaching the ton with minor placings in the two Australian Gold finals at Albion Park last Saturday night.
But his drive in Saturday night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton – Tell Me Tales – has been smashed in from $2.60 to $1.85 favourite despite a back row draw (gate 11).
And it just happens to coincide with the day Alford turns 51.
“It all looks good, doesn’t it … home track, a mare I love, my birthday … I think she’s going to be very hard to beat,” Alford said.
“The longer distance (2760m) will really suit her. She won so well a couple of weeks back and I watched her run last week and it was huge given the run she had.
“I’m sure she’s the best mare in the race and she can make her own luck, which gives you so much confidence.”
Tell Me Tales sat parked to brilliantly win the first leg of Victoria’s mares’ “triple crown” the 1720m Make Mine Cullen on May 4, then did a power of work when a fantastic third to stablemate Berisari in last week’s 2240m Angelique Club Pace at Melton.
“The draw gives us a great chance of staying in front of Berisari and working forward from there. She drew well and controlled the race in front last week, the draws makes it a lot harder for her this time,” Alford said.
In an astonishing example of trainer Emma Stewart’s dominance, she has five of the 12 runners, including three of the first four in betting.
Her runners are: Tell Me Tales (gate 11, $1.85), Berisari (13, $5), Delight Me (three, $8.50), Pistol Abbey (four, $34) and Frankincense (two, $41).
Alford actually has an outside chance of bringing up his 100th Group 1 win earlier in the night with veteran trotter Kyvalley Blur, who is a $10 shot of a 10m handicap in the $50,000 Australian Trotting Championship.
Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter McLovin (barrier one, $2.80) is favourite from the rejuvenated Savannah Jay Jay (two, $3.20).