Day At The Track

Alfords hope to build on Gav's "freakish" legacy

08:40 AM 11 Jun 2020 NZST
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Pantzup,Harness racing
Stuart McCormick photo

Alison Alford says she and husband Chris are “chuffed” and “honoured” at the opportunity that presents for them at Kilmore today - the chance to race the horse who delivered the late Gavin Lang his last win.

Pantzup saluted by a half-head in the Melton Toyota Trot on September 14, a fitting horse to deliver Lang a legacy win having been a remarkable training performance.

The pacer joined Lang after 14 starts without a victory and he remodelled the mare into a trotter who would proceed to win 11 of her 20 races for him, including a Breed For Speed Group 1 among seven successive wins.

It was after that triumph that Lang marvelled “'she’s a freak of nature really”.

It’s a history well-known to trainer Alison Alford, for whom Pantzup will today have her first start after a four-start stint with another great friend of Lang’s, Kerryn Manning.

“It’s amazing what Gavin did with her,” Alford said. “The day after he passed away I was feeding her and I got thinking about Gav and his last winner, which was her. We’re pretty honoured Gavin and Meagan gave us a go, but, of course, we wish Gav was still here training her.

“He did a wonderful job with her, so we have very big shoes to fill, but we will be trying our hardest.”

Alford said today's race – the C & M Build Group Trot streaming on Trots Vision at 4.03pm today – would also mean plenty to her husband and Pantzup’s reinsman Chris Alford.

“The last 12 or so years (Gavin and Chris) have been really good mates, they were respected rivals on the tracks and went to each other’s weddings off it,” she said. “They probably brought the best out of each other.”

Lang’s influence won’t merely be in the form of inspiration, with the horseman having given the Alfords a “long list of dos and don’ts” on how to best handle the prized mare.

“He has given us a lot of instructions,” Alford said, and whatever the mare does today she expects Pantzup will only improve for the run, her first since December 14.

“She has had a couple of trials. She is going as good as we can have her without race fitness – there’s nothing like race fitness. Sundons Courage will be hard to beat, but I expect she will be competitive.”

And big plans are afoot, with Alford “marking out the better races for her”, but for now “I’m just hopeful that we can get her going and win for Gav”.

CLICK HERE TO READ AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE GAVIN LANG TRIBUTE WALL

It could well be a particularly special afternoon for the Alford stable with another horse dear to them, Patched, also stepping out.

The three-year-old trotter’s had a troubled start to life.

“We nearly lost him as a two-year-old, when he got a virus which triggered laminitis,” Alford said. “He couldn’t walk and spent months locked up with special shoes on. The vets were not sure if he would make it and he’d be off the scene for 10 months.”

Fortunately, he survived and is now three runs into his first campaign, having finished fifth in his first two starts amid quality opposition before an eye-catching third at his last start, when he was squeezed and broke gait at the 400-metre mark before savaging the line.

“Being inexperienced cost him, but once he got back down he really found the line,” Alford said. “It was the glimpse the owners needed to see. I don’t know if he can win from the barrier, but he should be up there.”

He will step out today in the Jet Roofing 3YO Maiden Trot, streaming at 2.46pm on Trots Vision.

TALKING TROTS ON SENTRACK:

Hosts Jason Bonnington and Blake Redden have another big line-up for today's Talking Trots on SENTrack, which runs weekdays from 11am-1pm on 1377AM in Melbourne, 657AM in Perth and 1575AM in Wollongong.

Click here to listen live and for links to download the SEN app.

The good oil from the Vic trials circuit

Kilmore, R1 N8, Le Belle Bijoux

Was last of the four runners throughout but was beaten by less than a length on the line in a terrific finish. REPORT

Kilmore, R4 N9, Comandante

Dashed to the lead in the early stages and ran along at a rapid rate. He established a big lead mid-race and was never going to be beaten. He was tiring noticeably in the final 100m but he still scored by 30m. REPORT

Ballarat, R1 N8, Celtic Cash

Hasn’t raced since January and joins trainer Paddy Lee after formerly being prepared by Anton Golino. She won the third trial by a large margin over SIERRA KEA. REPORT

 

HRV - Michael Howard

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