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Some elite talent will pass through Chris Alford’s hands tonight, with just three of his horses having already amassed more than $2.3 million in stakes and 14 Group 1s. Across races five, seven and eight 'the Puppet' will steer Cruz Bromac ($1,056,075 winnings, 5 Group 1s), Our Princess Tiffany ($852,262, 6 Group 1s) and Wobelee ($415,239, 5 Group 1s), an extraordinary collection of talent that signals a great night’s racing ahead at Tabcorp Park Melton. “The way the season went, all the good horse are back in getting primed for the big races, so it’s really exciting,” Alford told Trots Talk. The shortest of his stars will likely be Our Princess Tiffany, a $1.60 favourite in the Angelique Club Cup, leg two of the Elizabeth Clarke Mares Triple Crown. Elizabeth Clarke Mares Triple Crown standings  Horse   Points  Our Princess Tiffany  8  Maajida  5  Goodtime Heaven  3  Rock N Roll Chapel   2  Pick Up Line   1             The four-year-old, who’s raced for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Stars for much of her career but crossed to Dean Braun for her Victorian campaign, was extraordinary in winning last week’s Benstud Make Mine Cullen. It was her first start since jumping the Tasman and has her well placed to not only win the new $10,000 prize for the best horse in the series, but potentially the $20,000 bonus for sweeping all three races. “She was (stunning),” Alford said of last week’s win. “First up from a mini break after coming from New Zealand, to do what she did was pretty amazing, it just shows how classy she is. “She’s pretty professional like a lot of the Purdon horses are, they can do pretty much everything. “She flopped along at the back of the field and when the speed came on at about the 600 she knew it was time to go, she grabbed the bit and just wanted to get on with it. “Around the last turn I had a stranglehold on her just to keep her off (Goodtime Heaven’s driver Mick) Stanley’s head, trying not to clip his wheel as she came out because she was that wound up ready to go.” And expectations in the camp are that she should just get better tonight and into the $100,000 Benstud Queen Of The Pacific on October 31, the final leg of the series. “Dean said she’s trained on really well since then, so all looking forward to the next leg of it and hopefully she can get the second leg down and go into the big one the week after,” Braun said. Before then he’ll take hold of Cruz Bromac in the TAB Long May We Play Bold David Free For All, with the million-dollar pacer having his third Victorian start after disappointing first-up and then rattling home to finish sixth in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. “He was terrible (first-up), left everyone scratching their heads a bit, but he’s trained a bit harder since then,” Alford said. “Because he’s an eight or nine-year-old now, he probably just took a bit more work than what he did the year before, so he seems to be getting wound up now. “The draw didn’t work out that well for us in the Vic Cup, but apart from the winner his sectionals were quicker than any other horse in the race, and that was only his second-up run in 12 months, so he should improve again this week.” Alford’s also hopeful of improvement from star trotter Wobelee, who’s trained by his wife Alison and looks well placed for a late charge at likely leaders Red Hot Tooth and Dance Craze in the Aldebaran Park True Roman Trotters Free For All. “The trotters are really really strong at the moment,” he said. “You have the two mares off the front row and McLovin, Wobelee and Savannah Jay Jay off the back. It’s going to be a pretty tactical race, hopefully there’s a fair bit of speed on which will suit us. “(Wobelee) went all right in the Bill Collins race, he was probably just a run short because he hadn’t run in three weeks. Hopefully that tightened him up for this week.” While Alford may not have a drive in The Big Screen Company Tatlow Stakes Group 2 for two-year-old fillies, with Rogue Wave the emergency, he’ll drive quality in the colts and geldings division in Idyllic, albeit from the outside-the-back-row draw. He’ll also partner Treasure for Isabel Walsh in the DNR Logistics Argent 3YO Classic, Brevity for David Aiken in the Alabar Vicbred Championship second heat and Kyvalley Clichy for Brent Lilley in the Aldebaran Park Vicbred Trot.   HRV - Michael Howard

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

Premier Victorian reinsman Chris Alford has put a more than adequate social distance between himself and his compatriots in this year's national harness racing drivers' premiership. Alford, based at Bolinda on the outskirts of Melbourne, is sitting on an incredible 202 winners. He got past the double century mark with two winners, Storm Cloud (Majestic Son-Cloud Chaser (Wind Cries Maori) and Sicario (Somebeachsomewhere-Bettor Than You (Bettors Delight), at Kilmore last Thursday. He then followed up two days later for trainer John Yeomans with a Cranbourne win aboard 3yo filly Theultimate (Art Major-Salix (By Xample). Under the regional zone racing introduced this month by HRV, Alford is restricted to the East division which includes just Cranbourne and Kilmore. The brilliant reinsman, who became the first in the sport in Australia to notch up 7000 victories when successful with No City Chick at Bendigo last August, recently posted that he was missing catching up with his fellow drivers and trainers. "Until we meet again, race safe and hard. And importantly be thankful that we can," he added. Alford holds a 30-win buffer over fellow Victorian Greg Sugars, who has jumped to 172 wins, aided by a haul of five winners at Melton last weekend. Ballarat rising star James Herbertson has topped the 100 mark for the second consecutive season. "Herbie", based at Lexton near Ballarat, is tied to the west zone which allows him to compete only at Stawell and Terang. The talented youngster guided four-year-old gelding Travel Bug (Dream Vacation-Tricia Powell (Sundon) to an impressive win in the Wheelie Waste Trotters Handicap at Terang last Friday for trainer Jason McNaulty. "He's a little gem of a horse. I've driven him a few times and I reckon I won on him at his first start as a three-year-old. It was nice to get the win for Jason," Herbertson said. "There was no big celebration with the 100th winner I got a chicken schnitzel on the way home and dad went for a hamburger!" he said. That’s 100 up for James Herbertson, with square-gaiter Travel Bug and trainer Jason McNaulty  Herbertson said while the zone racing had reduced his weekly driving engagements from around 25 back to four and five, he was thankful racing was still going. "That's the pros and cons with it. We've got our own team ticking along nicely and dad is enjoying a real purple patch. But then we are finding time to do a few more jobs at home on the farm, like fencing and catching up with jobs for the 5000 sheep we've got." Other Victorians enjoying a successful season include Kate Gath with 89; Michael "Bomber" Bellman on 72 and Jason Lee, 67. Queensland sensation Nathan Dawson is again hot property this season with 126 wins. While he's third on the national title, he again has the McMullen siblings breathing down his neck on the State premiership - Peter with 113 and Narissa on 101 wins. Paul Diebert is also looming, being on 98, while Grant Dixon has 86 and Adam Sanderson next with 71. Narissa recently reached a significant career driving milestone when she got up with Midnight Man (Village Jolt-Darkest Hour (Exotic Earl). It was her 900th victory. Over in the west, the "Voak Train", Chris Voak, and Ryan Warwick are locked in an enthralling battle. Only one win separates the tough competitors with Warwick holding sway on 124. Gary Hall Jnr is back on 107, Chris Lewis has 89, Aiden de Campo 70 and Michael Grantham 69. Poised to crack the ton are NSW pair Luke McCarthy, of Cobbitty, and Amanda Turnbull, of Bathurst, both sitting on 99 wins. Turnbull made a big charge late last week with four winners on her home track. Rob Morris, enjoying another great season, is on 96 with Todd McCarthy on 86. Stuck on 98 winners is gifted reinswoman Kima Frenning, who has been sidelined since a terrible fall at Melton about a month ago. The former backpacker, who got into the sport via Monte racing, suffered concussion and hand fractures. Frenning is expected to have a cast removed within a fortnight and will then start rehabilitation. She is hoping to be back driving in four or five weeks. In South Australia, once again brother and sister Wayne and Dani Hill are going "toe to toe". Dani is holding the narrowest of margins being on 93, just one ahead of Wayne. Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Top harness racing drivers Chris Alford and Greg Sugars again dominated at Warragul trots on Monday afternoon, winning six of the seven races staged between them.   Alford produced another four winner haul at the meeting, including the drive behind Amazing Daisy which won one of the feature events, the Rodney Demmler Memorial Pace, in a three-way photo finish that had many patrons guessing.   Alford also drove Sahara Sirocco (stablemate of Amazing Daisy), Freedom Writer and Shesa Tricky Bridge to victory.   Sugars meanwhile steered Forever And A Day to success in race five, and won the last race with Bao Nien, trained by his wife Jess.   Lisa Miles produced trotter Tam Oshanter to win the Gordon and June Turner Memorial Handicap event.   Family of the late Gordon and June Turner with race winning driver Lisa Miles   Despite small fields and icy conditions on Monday, a good day of racing was witnessed by spectators.   After a break of several weeks, the major trots meeting on the season takes place at Warragul on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 12 with the staging of the annual Warragul Cup events for pacers and trotters.   Kyle Galley

Even by his lofty standards, the year 2019 will surely go down as one of the most memorable for champion harness racing reinsman Chris Alford. Alford on Sunday rocketed to 100 wins for the season - even before the end of the calendar year with the easiest of victories aboard the Adam Kelly trained Rocktagonal (Western Terror - Mossdale Gabby (Pacific Rocket) at Warragul. But it's just one milestone in the "Puppet's" one-man highlight reel during 2019. At a rate just shy of six wins a week, Alford is again on track to crack the 300-win mark for the season - a feat he achieved in 2016-17, before amping up the pressure and cracking 400 for the past two seasons. The crack reinsman notched up career win number 7000 at Bendigo in August - the first Australian driver to reach the milestone. That feat was a follow on from an unprecedented 100th Group One victory in the Vicbred finals in July. To say Alford is showing his rivals a clean set of heels in yet another National Drivers Championship is somewhat of an understatement. Alford is 19 wins clear of Victorian rival Greg Sugars (81) - with WA reinsman Ryan Warwick on 65 wins and Queenslander Pete McMullen on 60. Leading the South Australian brigade is Danielle Hill on 56. Warwick has the best winning strike rate nationally, with 36 percent starters to winners. In the National Trainer's Premiership, Queensland's Grant Dixon has chalked up 83 wins, ahead of NSW trainer Craig Cross (73) and Victorian Emma Stewart (71) with West Australia's powerful Greg and Skye Bond stable on 68 wins. Emma Stewart has the leading national trainer strike-rate with just over 39 percent wins to starts, and 68 percent win/place to starts. Alford's rapid-fire 100 was a highlight at Warragul, but it was his challenger Greg Sugars who took the driving honors on the south east Victorian club's auspicious anniversary meeting, recognising 80 years since its first race meeting. Sugars collected four winners, including the feature race, the $10,000 Liberty Financial Trotters Cup Feature race which was won the up and comer Doug (Master Glide - Brylin Belle (Brylin Boyz) for Jess Tubbs.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

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

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