Champion harness racing driverhas been given a late reprieve to team up with Lennytheshark on his path to the Miracle Mile.
And trainersays it could ultimately be the winning of the great race at Menangle on February 25.
Victorian-based Alford is one of only three reinspeople in Australian history to drive over 5000 winners but faced missing this Saturday’s Miracle Mile preludes after being suspended for his drive in the recent Victoria Cup.
He has had that penalty reduced on appeal and can now take the reins behind hot favourite Lennytheshark in the $100,000 Canadian Club Sprint, the first of two Miracle Mile preludes on Saturday.
“It is great Chris get to continue his association with the horse and one less problem for us,” says Aiken.
“I think they can lead the prelude on Saturday and win it and to be honest, I think they are our best chance of winning the Miracle Mile.” That is a surprising call as Aiken also trains Miracle Mile second favourite Hectorjayjay, who will dominate betting on the second prelude on Saturday night.
Hectorjayjay is rated second in the Miracle Mile market to hotshot Kiwi pacer Lazarus, with Lennytheshark the third favourite but Aiken leans toward Lennytheshark as his best chance in the glamour sprint.
“I think Lenny is right back to his best,” he offers.
“He has had a few problems this summer as people know but his Hunter Cup run was great and he has gone on with it from there.
“We have a great shot at leading and winning both preludes this week because the draws have been kind to us but I still lean toward Lenny as our best Miracle Mile hope.”
Aiken’s son Josh will partner Hectorjayjay in the second prelude and the trainer says the luckless speed freak has recovered well from a hard run in the Victoria Cup.
“He worked very well on Saturday and we were lucky that when both horses traveled north on Monday the temperatures weren’t as hot as they have been so it wasn’t uncomfortable for them.
“So we are looking forward to the next two weeks, it should be special racing.”
Alford’s reduced suspension also means he can drive Victoria Derby winner Our Little General in his heat of the NSW Derby on Saturday night, in which he meets the horse he beat at Melton in Motu Meteor.
The other two Derby heats will be see Kiwi stablemates Ultimate Machete, who has been a sensation in New Zealand this summer, and Vincent start long odds-on.
MICHAEL GUERIN | @GuerinSports