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While many eyes on Friday night will be on the horses ranked second (Colt Thirty One) and eighth (San Carlo) in the ID19 rankings, it’s a third horse whose run in Friday’s 3SH Swan Hill Pacing Cup could prove his Grand Circuit worth. The rise and rise of Tam Major has been a high point of 2019, having won nine times and placed a further five in 15 starts, with his eighth in the Victoria Cup the first time he’s failed to place since January. “The last six months he’s really come of age and been racing great,” reinsman Chris Alford told Trots Talk ahead of Friday night’s cup, when he will again team with trainer Emma Stewart to shoot for silverware. “His run in the Victoria Cup was a pass mark, his first run against the best ones – sitting midfield it was just so hard to make any ground.” Tomorrow night will again expose him to the best, with New Zealand-bound pair San Carlo and Grand Circuit winner Colt Thirty One drawn directly outside Tam Major. Alford said he’d look to press forward in the 2790-metre cup. “The field’s not long been out and I’ve only had a quick look, but I think I’d like to try and keep the advantage and stay in front of the other two big guns if possible." The champion reinsman has a quality line-up of drives throughout the night, including Stallions Australasia Swan Hill Trotters Cup contestant Mass Destruction, who he told Trots Talk was “a really quality trotter when he’s right”. “He may have just had a couple of niggling little issues, which has caused him to break in his last couple, but with just the two horses off the front hopefully he can just ping to the front and lead them a merry dance.” And he’ll then polish the night off with The Storm Inside in the Kiel Tiling Swan Hill Mile, in which he expects they will be “blazing”. CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN IN TO TROTS TALK   HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

CHAMPION driver Chris Alford just keeps racking-up the milestones. The latest came last Friday night when No City Chick’s Bendigo win taking him to a mind-blowing 7000 career wins. “I'm having a great run. It doesn’t seem that long ago I reached 6000 wins,” he said. “I’ve got so much great support from owners and trainers.” Alford, 51, now surely ranks up with all the greatest drivers we’ve had in this part of the world. “It’s been another big season and I’ve got some nice horses to look forward to in the new season as well, especially Be Happy Mach, who is the equal of any two-year-old I’ve driven.” ** ** ** ** TIGER Tara was beaten at his own game in a massive upset at Menangle last night. In a rare sight, the Inter Dominion champion was simply outstayed by the much-improved Islandspecialmajor, a $26 outsider for trainer-driver Jason Grimson. Tiger Tara burned early with main danger Joes Star Of Mia, then sat behind that horse, while the former Victorian pacer Islandspecialmajor sat parked and dug deep to fend-off the favourite, who had the whole straight to run him down. They went a 1min54.5sec mile rate for 2300m. No doubt Tiger Tara isn’t fully wound-up with his major targets still a long way off, but he has just turned nine and any defeats like last night will raise queries over whether he is still as good. ** ** ** ** THE winning streak is now seven. Buzz former Kiwi pacer Balraj thrashed his rivals again at Menangle last Tuesday, just days after it was reported connections had turned down a $500,000 offer. Balraj won races at Forbury on February 21 and March 7 and was then sold to Australia where he’s won five on end. His past four Aussie wins have been by an aggregate of 128.4 metres. Last Tuesday he was led and was driven more conservatively by Robbie Morris, but still roared clear to win by 24.4m in a 1min51.9sec mile. He ran home in 54.2sec, but it was the 25.6sec last quarter which set tongues wagging this time. “You’ve got to have more string to your bow, so I wanted to drive him more conservatively and just let him sprint home. I was really pleased with the way he settled for, then he was electric when I said go and just took off,” Morris said. “He’s learning with every run and looks exceptional. “He’s having a let-up now, maybe a month off, and then it’s back to target the Chariots Of Fire.” ** ** ** ** A TRIP down to Melbourne paid dividends with one of Australia’s best trotters last night. Rickie Alchin’s classy stayer Tough Monarch was simply too good for his rivals despite a 10m handicap and doing most of the work in the Group 3 Coulter Crown (2760m). The son of former star Kiwi mare Tussle enjoyed another strong season, mostly racing against the best company, for six wins and five placings from 20 starts. He’s now earned almost $180,000 and looks to still be on the improve. ** ** ** ** IT was a winning reunion for Kima Frenning and one of her favourite pacers at Melton last night. Frenning was back aboard Wrappers Delight for the first time this campaign and then duly saluted despite a back row draw in the My Lightning Blue free-for-all. “He’s been such a great horse to me and I’d love to drive him all the time, but it’s hard now I train Buster Brady and they clash a bit,” Frenning said. Wrappers Delight finished strongly to win in a scorching 1min51.sec mile rate for 1720m, just 0.4sec outside Cruz Bromac’s track record. ** ** ** ** TRAINER Debbie Lewis has certainly unlocked the key to Our Corelli. The Bettor's Delight gelding built a solid record in Justin Prentice’s stable, but has gone to a whole new level since switching to Lewis’ care in June. Nine runs for Lewis have netted six wins, a second and a tag as one of WA’s most exciting open-class pacers. The buzz grew last Friday at Gloucester Park when Chris Lewis used gate one to lead and gave nothing else a chance in blistering times to win the free-for-all. The 1720m mile rate was a scorching 1min52.7sec, just 1.1sec outside of Chicago Bull’s track record. ** ** ** ** BREEDERS Crown champ Be Happy Mach is a look in for Aussie 2YO of the Year. But the depth behind him paves the way for some mouth-watering Derby clashes in this new season. Jilliby Nitro is a star and hopefully recovers from injury in time for races like the Victoria and NSW Derbys. And there’s the late juvenile season find, NSW-trained Expensive Ego. The son of Rocknroll Heaven stretched his unbeaten record to six races for trainer David Thorn when he easily won another feature, the Group 2 Australian Gold NSW final, at Menangle last night. It followed a pair of Group 1 wins in Queensland. Expensive Ego matched his Menangle mile personal best with a 1min52.9sec dash last night.   Adam Hamilton

Lord's Raceway has played host to plenty of history-making events, and the the Bendigo Harness Racing Club was not about to let Chris Alford go without a reminder of where one of his biggest achievements happened. The champion reinsman notched up his 7000th career winner, when he steered the Kelvin Barker-trained No City Chick to a trademark conspicuous win in the second race on Friday night's card in Bendigo. The 50-year-old, known as 'The Puppet' brought up his 6999th victory aboard the Graeme Dalton/Sutton Grange-trained Missus Matilda on Thursday at Maryborough. He would need just two more drives to become the first in the sport in Australia to get to 7000. BHRC marked the milestone with the presentation of a plaque to Alford, who earlier this year nabbed his 100th Group 1 winner. The popular reinsman left behind a permanent reminder of the night by signing a racebook below the magical 7000 number. The book will soon be framed, to be preserved in the Bendigo Harness Racing Museum, operated by historian Noel Ridge. An appreciative Alford was quick to praise the generous support of owners and trainers in helping him reach the milestone. "It's good to have something I can say I've done and that no one else has done before," he said "In years to come that will be broken I'm sure by all these young ones coming through; they are doing very well. "I will just have to try and keep on getting more winners as we go along just to stay in front of them. "I can't thank the owners and trainers enough for putting me on. I go out there and make blues as much as anyone else, but I get to drive lot of fast horses too. "I'd like to thank my family - I don't get to see them much as I am always away racing, but I am sure they would have been screaming at the TV at home. "Hopefully I can keep doing a good job for a little bit longer." Alford's 7000th career win capped a big August for the brilliant reinsman, who earlier in the month went past 400 winners for the 2018-19 season. His last 1000 winners have come in the period from May 2017 and tonight (August 30).   By Kieran Iles Reprinted with permission of The Bendigo Advertiser

Reinsman Chris Alford created his own piece of harness racing history on the weekend, driving the winner of the Traralgon Pacing Cup for the sixth time.   Alford eclipsed the previous record for winning drives in the event of five held by Ted Demmler, when Sahara Tiger won the feature race at Warragul on Sunday afternoon.   Sahara Tiger overcame the inside second row draw of the mobile to win Sunday's race, with Alford getting the horse off the inside and into clear running, before sweeping past the field at the 600 metre mark and going on to record an easy win.   A three-year-old taking on older horses, Sahara Tiger became the first horse of his age to win the Traralgon Pacing Cup since Kotare Knight in 1979.   Sahara Tiger is trained by Gary and Debbie Quinlan at Drouin West, giving the stable their third win in the race, having won with Pinball and Sharazar when the event was staged at Traralgon.   Co-feature race on Sunday was the $10,000 Ken Miller Memorial Pace, won by Diamond Cullen for trainer Jodi Quinlan and driver Craig Demmler.   Family and friends of the late Ken Miller at the presentation of the Ken Miller Memorial race on Sunday                                                                                                                      --Matt Walker Photography   A good crowd attended Sunday's meeting in fine conditions. Warragul Harness Racing Club has another Sunday meeting scheduled for July 14.     Kyle Galley

Reinsman Chris Alford will be chasing a record sixth win in the Traralgon Pacing Cup at Warragul on Sunday afternoon.   Alford is tied with legendary horseman Ted Demmler who also drove five winners of the Traralgon/Latrobe Valley Pacing Cup in the 1970s and 1980s.   Only one of Alford's wins in the race came on the Traralgon track, in 1988, however since the race was reintroduced at Warragul in 2006 the Bolinda horseman has made it his own, with a further four winning drives.   On Sunday Alford steers three-year-old Sahara Tiger, trained by the Quinlan stable, who have won the Traralgon Pacing Cup twice previously.   Should the horse overcome the inside second row draw, Sahara Tiger will become the second three-year-old to win the Cup, the only other being former InterDominion class pacer Kotare Knight in 1979.   Hurricane Stride is aiming to become the first horse to win the race twice, and young reinsman Brad Chisholm will take the reins on Sunday.   A field of eight contests the $10,000 feature at 3:44pm.   The day's other feature, the Ken Miller Memorial Pace, has drawn together a good line-up of C0 class pacers for a $10,000 stake.   One of the trainers competing in Sunday's race will win a Dooza Sulky, which will be drawn through a lucky draw held before the race.   There are eight races on Sunday, with free entry, bistro lunches in the clubs heated rooms overlooking the track, and TAB and bookmaker betting with races shown on the indoor giant screen.   Trots followers are encouraged the make the trip out to Warragul, only an hour from Melbourne with direct freeway access for a good day of country racing from Noon. Kyle Galley  

IN the end it was sheer strength of numbers which won a war of attrition for champion trainer Emma Stewart in last night’s $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific (2760m) at Melton. Stewart had four runners Victoria’s biggest mares’ race and it was the second-outsider of them - $52.40 shot Pistol Abbey – who stormed home for an easy win after an epic race. Stablemate Tell Me Tales was sensationally-backed from $2.60 to $1.80 favourite to give Chris Alford his 100th Group 1 win, but spent too much petrol in a blazing move around the field to find the lead midrace. She battled on well fourth. Mick Stanley’s classy mare Soho Burning Love sustained a long run and looked the winner on the home bend before driver David Moran moved Pistol Abbey into clear air and the four-year-old blasted home in a 1min56.1sec mile rate. Soho Burning Love ($51.20) was monstrous in second spot with another outsider Makes Every Scents ($46.30) grabbed third spot for a blowout trifecta. Kiwi mare Our Step Up had little luck at crucial times back along the inside and finished sixth. The other Melton Group 1 was the $50,000 Australasian Trotting Championship won by the country’s most improved trotter, Savannah Jay Jay in a thrilling three-way finish. Trainer Stan Cameron has rejuvenated the eight-year-old gelding who led throughout and staved-off class mare Red Hot Tooth by a half neck with another neck away to McLovin in third spot. It was also great to see Chariots Of Fire winner and Miracle Mile placegetter Poster Boy make a winning return, albeit closer than most expected, at Melton. Emma Stewart’s star led and just did enough to beat a gallant and flying Rishi by a half-neck in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NO wonder the connections of Mirragon were gutted when a gallop cost him qualifying for the recent Australian Gold final. Emma Stewart’s freshman colt would have a been a major player in the final – won by Jilliby Nitro – judging by his powerhouse win a Home Grown Classic heat at Ballarat last Thursday night. Despite sitting outside highly-rated stablemate Pandering, who dictated the terms, Mirragon knuckled down late and snared a 1.4m win in a 1min56.3sec mile rate for 1710m. It was more the closing splits and the way he did which impressed. Mirragon closed in 56 flat and 27.1sec. Stewart almost snared both heats when first-starter Beale Street did all the work and failed by just a half-head to overpower the leader, Withouttheuh in a 1min56sec mile rate. Clearly Stewart has yet another fantastic juvenile crop he best-performed youngster Be Happy Mach ran a massive third in the Australian Gold final at Albion Park after doing the work outside winner, Jilliby Nitro. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER star Kiwi youngster King Of Swing continued his WA resurgence with a dazzling Gloucester Park win last night (Saturday). The Gary Hall Sr-trained four-year-old led throughout and thrashed a handy field by 23m in a slick 1min56.3sec mile rate for the long 2536m trip. He ripped home in 54.7 and 26.8sec. “It’s great to see him finishing off his races so well,” Hall Sr said. “He’s got so much ability, but he has been able to lead to win his past couple. The next step is seeing what he can do in the field or outside them, but we’re thrilled with how he’s going right now.” The Gloucester Park feature was the $50,000 Pearl 3YO Classic won by underrated trainer-driver Aldo Cortopassi and his gelding Theo Aviator in a 1min55.5sec mile rate for 2130m. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ TRAINER Ben Yole keeps smashing records in Tasmania. By far the state’s most dominant trainer, Yole created history by becoming the first trainer in the state to win 125 races in a season. It bettered his own record of 124. Yole reached the mark with four wins from the eight races at Launceston last Friday night. It was former Lance Justice pacer, 10-year-old Jeans Mattjesty, who made it 125 wins when he scored easily in the final event. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ EVERGREEN pacer Maximan returned to winning form in the free-for-all at Menangle last night. Shane and Lauren Tritton’s 10-year-old overpowered his rivals in a slick 1min50.9sec mile with young driver Lachie Manzelmann in the sulky. Lauren Tritton drove stablemate and favourite Franco Nelson, who didn’t fire at his return from a spell and finished a distant eighth. Speedy mare Eye See Diamonds led throughout in a 1min52.9sec mile to win the Menangle feature, the Group 3 Miss Brazilian Stakes for mares. Another win of note came from former Great Southern Star winner Glenferrie Typhoon, who proved a class above his rivals for new trainer Roy Roots Jr and driver Lauren Tritton. Glenferrie Typhoon left Andy Gath for a stint in WA and was then sold to clients of Roots Jr. He’s won two of his five NSW runs and is now a nine-year-old. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ NORTHVIEW Hustler is the latest of the Lincoln Farms pacers to enjoy the move from NZ to Queensland. The talented five-year-old turned heads with a winning debut for Alistair and Hayden Barnes in the feature race at Albion Park last night. Northview Hustler worked to the front from the standing start and always looked in control before winning well in a fast 1min57.3sec mile rate for the long 2647m trip in The Flashing Red Discretionary. It was a sign he could be a factor in the Queensland Winter Carnival features in July. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ EMMA Stewart and Amanda Turnbull left their mark on one of South Australia’s biggest meetings at Port Pirie  last night. Turnbull trained and drove Catch A Moment to the easiest wins in the Group 2 3YO colts and geldings Southern Cross final. She then drove two-year-old filly Treasure to win an easy win in her final for Stewart. Stewart also Southern Cross finals for two-year-old colts and geldings with locally-owned One Highway Tohell. Local Port Pirie trainer Dale Afford had a night to remember, winning the 3YO fillies’ final with Shesashark and one of the consolations with Hesashark.   Adam Hamilton

Jovial Bill Milner of Kilmore is strictly a trainer only of square-gaiters these days - and loves every minute of it. "I'll have to be honest and say that a fair amount of patience is required with them at times, but I just keep poking along and mostly they are enjoyable," Milner said. And Bill's certainly enjoying a pleasant time in harness racing at the moment, with four-year-old Dellsun (Majestic Son-Auravale (Malhana Gindin USA) getting the job done in fine style. The gelding, nicely driven by master Melbourne reinsman Chris Alford, didn't put a foot wrong to take out the JDC Contractors Trotters Handicap at Shepparton last Tuesday night. Milner said the Shepparton circuit was quickly becoming one of his favorite tracks. "I seem to have a fair bit of success up there. Dellsun is an example because his previous victory was also at Shepparton a month ago," he said. "It's a nice easy drive from home so I'll keep racing there while our luck is in." Milner is hands-on with pretty much every aspect of the sport and does a great job with a small team. Not only does he breed all his stock, but breaks them in, does the farrier work and trains them. That virtually leaves only the driving side of it, but he says he's quite happy to watch from the other side of the fence. "I do enjoy the breaking-in part probably the most. There's a heap of satisfaction comes out of that and yes I suppose I do nearly everything myself," he said. "Over the many years I've been involved, I've learnt a hell of a lot from a great number of people. "I got started with Carl O'Dwyer when I was a teenager doing a farrier apprenticeship. Then later on when I was shoeing for greats like Vin Knight, Gordon Rothacker, Kevin Murray, Kevin Dixon and others, I would pick up more knowledge. "Early days another influential person was Frank Shinn. I remember we went off buying a horse each and mine was named Fair Baron. I was learning how to drive fastwork one day and nearly put Frank over the fence, which didn't go down all that well. "Fair Baron never won a race, but I'm certain the one Frank purchased turned out okay!" Milner now owns the property that belonged to Shinn. It's on nearly four acres and has a 400-metre track. He said he trained pacers years ago before changing his alliances to square gaiters. "Without doubt the best pacer I had would have been Vice Regal, who raced in the early 1990s," Milner said. Vice Regal (Vance Hanover USA-Pat Hanover NZ (Emory Hanover USA) finished his career with 14 wins and 24 placings for more than $74,000. After becoming a fully qualified farrier, Milner was employed by the Victoria Racing Club and worked at Seymour and Kilmore gallops meetings as well as some in Melbourne. "I used to help out with barrier duties as well and I'm still at it, nearly 50 years later," he said. Most of the Milner team go back to a daughter of Welcome Advice, Star Advice, a moderately performed race mare. However, in the breeding barn, she had six foals, including Auravale and Auravalley. Auravale, a five-race winner, had six foals with all winners, except one. Auravalley has produced three foals with the best being My Archie Way (4 wins) and Tetra (2 wins). Milner paid tribute to his success with his small team to supporter Kevin Dixon, "92 years young", who has held a licence for 76 years. "Kevin would only train two at a time back in the day, but he was very good at it. When the old Melbourne Showgrounds closed, he moved to Kilmore on a small acreage and he lives about five minutes from me," Milner said. "He has taught me a lot. He calls into my stables regularly and still attends all the meetings with me - he's a great mate."   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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).   Adam Hamilton

One of world harness racing’s all-time greatest drivers Chris Alford will join RSN’s Matt Stewart for a one-hour special edition of Open Mic tomorrow from 9am. Alford is approaching 7000 career winners and is at the peak of his powers, over 100 winners clear this season on the national premiership with 268 victories from 1121 starts. The champion reinsman has driven 99 Group 1 winners and looks a huge chance to crack the century when Tell Me Tales lines up in Saturday night’s $100,000 Benstud Queen of the Pacific at Tabcorp Park Melton. Tune into RSN (927am or streamed at rsn.net.au) from 9am tomorrow as Stewart takes a trip down memory lane with the man they call “the Puppet”.   Cody Winnell

Experienced Melbourne harness racing trainer Shane Gallagher could be forgiven for thinking that his wife may just be the lucky charm he’s needed around horses.   Gallagher, who is head-trainer at the picturesque Doreen property Homestead Farm, owned by John and Christine Yeomans, has his wife Rachael Benns as owner of two square gaiters.   “I don’t know if it’s beginner’s luck or what it is, but the horses have seven wins between them, and they’re the first two that Rachael has ever owned,” Gallagher said.   “My wife has a love for buying shoes, so needless-to-say she has been adding to her collection with each racetrack victory - she will probably kill me, but there’s about 100 pairs in her collection.”   Six-year-old bay mare Whattalottafray (Armbro Invasion USA-Whatta Tussle (Brioso Hanover USA) gave Rachael another reason to go shopping with an all-the-way win at Maryborough on Thursday afternoon.   After beginning nicely from the standing start tapes, the mare assumed control in front and was then rated in typically brilliant fashion by master reinsman Chris Alford.   With comfortable splits of 31.2, 31.3, 28.6 and 29.6, Whattalottafray had an eight-metre advantage up her sleeve at the finish over Surbiton Armistice, and a further four metres back to Allens Delight.   Gallagher said he had put the trotter up for sale a few weeks ago. “I couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t get a single call. It was quite surprising, but perhaps I might get one now because she’s still on the market,” he said.   “I’m actually enjoying training a few trotters because I haven’t had any for many years.”   The other square gaiter in the Gallagher team is brilliant three-year-old Fear The Yankee (Yankee Spider USA-Whatta Tussle (Brioso Hanover USA), a half-sister to Whattalottafray.   Fear The Yankee has three wins and two placings for $79,000.   Her victories were in the $50,000 Platinum Home Grown Classic Group One final in May and then the $90,000 Super Series Group One final for trotting fillies two months later. On both occasions, Anthony Butt was the winning driver.   “A friend told me about Whattalottafray, suggesting it was well worth a try,” Gallagher said.   “Then we later had the chance to purchase Fear The Yankee so we’ve been a bit fortunate.   “I only work two at a time, while John (Yeomans), who I’ve been with for probably 30 years, usually has a few more with six or seven in training.”   Gallagher said all jokes aside, he didn’t have a problem with wife Rachael having a full rack of footwear.   “She is a big shoe buyer and providing her horses keep up their form, I haven’t got a problem in the world!”     Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

He may have 6000 plus career wins on board and has driven 400 wins in a season......but that's not all !   Harness racing Hall Of Famer and Living Legend Chris Alford spoke with Anthony Logan ahead of his participation in the Invitation Drivers Championship on Labour Day Monday - March 11 at Horsham.   Your greatest strength & weakness – strength: staying focused under pressure - weakness: saying no A question you hate to answer: best horse driven Strangest thing you have ever eaten: something raw in Sweden, I don’t even know what it was! Your favourite and least fav. words: favourite word = yes & the least fav. = no Your hero: John Campbell (Legendary US reinsman, retired with 10,600+ winners, stakes $US299.9 million) If you were able to spend a day with a celebrity, who would it be ? Bradley Cooper (44yo American actor and filmmaker) Is your glass half full, half empty or simply has water in it? has water in it Your guilty pleasure food: licorice ice cream If you could retire tomorrow, what would you do ?  be an astrologist or archaeologist Your preference - crowds, small group or by yourself: small group if you could bring a famous person back to life, who would it be ? Falco (Austrian singer/song writer, died age 40, 1998) If you joined the circus, what would your act or role be ? the clown Last time you ran or jogged: I did the 16km Run for the Kids in 2011 & after that I never wanted to run again Bad habit: biting my nails   Anthony Logan

The most successful reinsman in Australian history thinks he might be better for the experience of driving at Menangle last Saturday night.  Which might sound a little strange considering Chris Alford has already won most of the great races at the NSW track, including the Miracle Mile.  Alford returns to Menangle this Saturday night for a fistful of top chances in group one races, all trained by his racing muse, Emma Stewart.  The pair combined for three wins last Saturday night and have Poster Boy (Miracle Mile), Centenario (NSW Derby), Tell Me Tales (Ladyship Mile) and Kualoa in the NSW Oaks.  And it is in the Derby that Alford says he should be better off for his outing last Saturday.  “I hadn’t driven in a 2400m race there for a while and I kinda forgot how much advantage the horses drawn wide of the track get.  “When you wind into the back straight you are only just straightening up when they let them go and that was one reason he got crossed at the start last week.  “But later in the night I drove a filly in an Oaks heat and was more awake to it and able to get her out better from the ace and that will be the case again this Saturday.” Centenario looked very at home around Menangle last Saturday, with his huge stride suited to the big track and if Alford is able to hold the lead early that gives him options, one of which could be then trailing Victoria Derby winner Muscle Factory. With that rival’s love of hard running and the fact it could have gaps appearing, Centenario sitting in the trail could be outstanding value even at the $2.60 with TAB.  Alford is not so sure what to make of the ace draw for Poster Boy in the Miracle Mile as so much will depend on the pressure from the outside.  “I would be happy enough to lead or trail the right horse, but I obviously won’t want to be trailing one of the roughies. And I don’t want to be going a 25-second first quarter.  “He can win but the early part will be interesting.” Alford won’t have to worry about inside draws with Kualoa in the Oaks and Tell Me Tales in the Ladyship, with their wide draws costing them favouritism but maybe not the race.  “They can both still win but their chances might depend on how the Purdon horses (Dream About Me in the Ladyship and Our Princess Tiffany in the Oaks) end up.  “But the draws don’t end our chances. They just make it harder.”   Michael Guerin

A STUNNING track and class record by the Emma Stewart-trained Demon Delight has set up an enthralling NSW Derby next week after three heats were run at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight. Demon Delight set a world record over 2400m for a pacer, coming from fourth at the bell to beat the highly-rated Muscle Factory with a devastating sprint in the straight. While Victoria Derby winner Muscle Factory (Lauren Tritton) tried to kick away on the turn after racing without cover for most of the race, Amanda Turnbull brought Demon Delight with a mighty finish to score by an incredible eight and a quarter metres. That broke the mighty Smolda's world record over the 2400m journey, which was covered in 2:48.0 and a mile rate of 1:52.6. War Dan Delight (Luke McCarthy) was an eye-catching third and the front-running Hardhitter grabbed the final spot in the Derby by finishing the fastest fourth of the three heats. Earlier promising Victorian visitor Centenario set next week's NSW Derby on its' ear with what was at that stage, a world record run for a three-year-old in winning the first of the three heats. Taken straight to the front by master reinsman Chris Alford, Centenario bowled along in front with slick quarters of 29.3-28.9-28.5 and home in a stunning 25.8 to rate a slashing 1:54.3 mile rate, blitzing the previous record for a three-year-old set by Atomic Red. Centenario's task was made a little easier when second favourite Hurricane Harley (Amanda Turnbull) put in an impromptu gallop at the start before putting in sterling effort, coming from last to finishing third, with Malcolm's Rhythm finishing second after getting a lovely run behind the leader. The second Derby heat saw another Victorian visitor Laura Crossland win a spot in next week's rich final with her current stable star Lochinvar Art. Crossland signed up one of Australia's best reinsmen Luke McCarthy for the drive and the former Bathurst boy didn't let her down with a dashing all-the-way win with the son of Modern Art. McCarthy made his intentions clear right from the beginning and despite a wide draw, took Lochinvar Art straight to the top and dictated terms in a masterly display, rating 29.2 and 29.7 for his first two quarters of the mile, leaving plenty of petrol in the tank for the run home. With a third split of 28.8, Lochinvar Art then put the pedal to the metal and ran a 26s quarter to put his rivals to the sword, beating Max Delight (Todd McCarthy for David Aiken) and Fourbigmen (Chris Alford for Emma Stewart) with a 1:54.5 mile, just two-tenths of a second outside of Centenario's earlier track record run. The final field for the NSW Derby, with barrier draw to come, is Centenario, Malcolms Rhythm, Hurricane Harley, Lochinvar Art, Max Delight, Fourbigmen, Demon Delight, Muscle Factory, War Dan Delight and Hardhitter. FOR MORE INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON 0438-398-251.   Mandy Madern

Champion Australian reinsman Chris Alford says taking on the most feared horse in harness racing could actually help Poster Boy win the A$1million Miracle Mile.  The Victorian four-year-old earned an automatic invite to Australasia’s richest harness race with a stunning display in the A$200,000 Chariots of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night.  He came from fourth last at the 600m mark to blow past some superstar opponents and had punters beaming after being backed in from $5.50 to start $3.80.  Trainer Emma Stewart was quick to accept the invite to the Miracle Mile on Saturday week so Poster Boy joins longshot Newcastle Mile winner Yayas Hot Spot as the only guaranteed starters with the other six spots to be decided from two preludes at Menangle this Saturday.  In one of those preludes will be the iron warrior of pacing Tiger Tara, fresh from adding the Hunter Cup at Melton to his Inter Dominion and Victoria Cup victories this season which has seen him ascend to the top of the Australian pacing ranks.  But while Tiger Tara remains the $3.50 Miracle Mile favourite with the Australian TAB compared with Poster Boy’s $6.50, driver Alford says the hard-running champ could aid Poster Boy.  “The harder they go in the Mile the better it will suit us,” said Alford, who tipped Poster Boy strongly last week.  “He will follow any speed and in fact his best chance of winning the Mile would be if they went really hard and he can sit off them just like he did tonight.  “I am glad Emma accepted the invite because he has developed into a really good Grand Circuit horse.  “He has always been fast but now he is strong enough to carry that speed longer and that is what you need for a Miracle Mile.” While Poster Boy has his spot in the great race the competition for the remaining six places has intensified as more big names eye the preludes.  Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto will also have Majordan in them after he smashed some serious free-for-all opponents on Saturday night, leading from barrier nine to pace 1:49.5, which compares favourably with Poster Boy’s 1:49.1 considering Majordan did all the work in his race.  “He is a really good horse but Tiger is flying at the moment,” said Pizzuto comparing the pair.  Kiwi trainer Mark Purdon could have up to five prelude contenders, including Chase Auckland who was the luckless Chariots favourite after never getting clear in the straight.  Saturday’s meeting will also sees heats of the NSW Derby and Oaks as well as the open class mares chasing the final four spots in the Ladyship Mile, which will be run Miracle Mile night March 2.  Dream About Me and Elle Mac will make last minute trips to Sydney on Friday to contest the final lead-up to the Ladyship Mile, with the pair needing at least a top four finish to be guaranteed a start.  And they will be joined on the flight by Princess Tiffany, who was originally going to miss the NSW Oaks but after trialling well at Rangiora last week she will head to Menangle on Saturday night for the Oaks heats. Michael Guerin

AUSTRALIA’S most successful driver says he doesn’t fear the country’s most exciting pacer in Saturday’s $200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle.  And Chris Alford says he even has a surprising plan how to beat Ignatius with Victorian star Poster Boy.  Ignatius started the week as the TAB favourite for Saturday night’s great four-year-old mile but has lost that honour to Chase Auckland, even after he sat parked outside him and beat him last Saturday.  That would seem to be punters rallying for the Purdon-Rasmussen training factor as well as Chase Auckland having the ace draw.  But Chris Alford, the most successful harness driver in Australian history with over 6700 wins, says he can beat both of them with Poster Boy.  The latter has only met Ignatius twice and beaten him both times as well as winning the NSW Derby this time last year.  Add that to a comeback win over Inter Dominion star Spankem two starts ago and a walk in the park at Melton last Saturday and Poster Boy’s $5.50 bookies quote starts to look inviting.  One of the reasons for the value is his widish draw at barrier seven but Alford says rather than track Ignatius, who many expect to see parked again, he wants to stay in front of him.  “I think we are every bit as good as him,” he offers.  “And we are drawn inside him so my first plan would be to stay in front of him. “This has always been a good horse because he has real speed but now he has developed the stamina to go with it.  “So he could be in for a very good season.” The Chariots has gone from being a great four-year-old race to one of the fastest miles run in Australasia every year and the winners now become genuine contenders for the Miracle Mile, as shown by the performances of Have Faith In Me (won Miracle Mile), Lazarus (third) and Jilliby Kung Fu (second) in recent season.  But whether Poster Boy is ready for a Miracle Mile on March 2 should be win on Saturday will be up to trainer Emma Stewart. “Emma and Clayton (Tonkin, partner) have a great record at Menangle and they are one of the few stables from down here where the horses don’t need a run on the track before they showed their best up there.  “Their horses are just so tough and they suit Menangle because their is nowhere to hide.” Poster Boy is Alford’s only drive on Saturday night but he is confident about the classic chances of Kualoa (NSW Oaks) and Centenario (NSW Derby) in coming weeks.   Michael Guerin  

Poster Boy had a perfect all-to-plan tune-up for Saturday night’s Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire, the Group 1 four-year-old sprint for $200,000. Having saluted when first up in the TAB Multiplier 4YO Bonanza, which earned the half-brother to Yankee Rockstar and Born To Rocknoll a place in the Chariots, Poster Boy made it two-from-two this time in when he won the Sandhu Enterprises Pace at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. The Emma Stewart-trained four-year-old cleared out and won comfortably for reinsman Chris Alford, who heaped praise on the “beautiful little colt”. “He just does what he wants too,” Alford told Trots Vision. “Clayton wanted him to have a bit of a blowout the last 400 and he felt really good.” Poster Boy saluted by 12m from San Domino off a 55.6 final 800m, taking his stakes won to $551,390 for owner-breeders Anne and Bill Anderson of Lauriston Bloodstock. Alford said the Somebeachsomewhere entire had great versatility, which should stand him in good stead Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “He can buzz off the gate for a 100 and then just drop the bit, and you can pull out go again and then he will just drop the bit again,” Alford said. “He can just sprint and slow down as much as you like.” Rackemup Tigerpie will also fly the Victorian flag in the feature, having qualified with a third placing in last week’s Paleface Adios Stakes Michael Stanley’s Rock N Roll Heaven four-year-old has been enlisted a $23 chance with the TAB.com.au, with Poster Boy ($5.50) on the third line of betting outside polemarker Chase Auckland ($2.50) and Ignatius ($3). Michael Howard for Trots Media

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