Top Aussie driver confirmed for Cambridge's big day

by Adam Hamilton

Champion Aussie driver Chris Alford will be at Cambridge on The Grins Night of Champions on April 14.

Alford confirmed he’s crossing the ditch to drive star Aussie trotter Aldebaran Zeus in the Group 2 trotting sprint on the night for trainer Brent Lilley.

But could Alford also drive in the Race by Grins itself?

While nobody would confirm it and maybe no decision has been made, Alford is believed to be the front-runner to drive the Jess Tubbs-trained Triple Eight in the $1mil slot race.

Of course, Tubbs will have two runners and her husband, Greg Sugars, will be aboard dual Group 1 winner Better Eclipse.

It’s hard to imagine a better pick-up driver than the winningest driver in this part of the world.

But for now, Alford is focused on Aldebaran Zeus, who caps his preparation for an extended stay in New Zealand when he tackles the Uncle Petrika Trotters’ free-for-all (1730m) at Melton on Saturday night.

It’s his first start since upstaging Australia’s top trotter and Inter Dominion champ Just Believe in the Group 1 Hammerhead at Menangle on Miracle Mile night (March 4).

“It fits perfectly,” Lilley said. “It’s a sprint race to sharpen him up before he flies over to NZ next Wednesday.”

Aldebaran Zeus, who has gate four, only has four rivals on Saturday night, but there is enough class to make it a decent test.

Credit Master (gate five), Ultimate Stride (two) and Nephew Of Sonoko (three) are the major rivals.

“He was terrific at Menangle,” Alford said. “He finally drew a decent barrier and I thought Just Believe would find it very hard to beat him and that’s how it panned out.

“He’s so good in front, very hard to get past.”

Alford, 54, is excited about returning to NZ where he first made a splash 28 years ago winning the Christchurch Inter Dominion final aboard Golden Reign.

He admits one of the main reasons for driving Aldebaran Zeus in NZ is the possibility of contesting a Rowe Cup.

“I’ve never driven in the race and it’s one I’ve wanted to have a go at,” he said.

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