HE HAS won more races than any driver in the Southern Hemisphere, yet at Yarra Valley today Chris Alford managed a career first.
Successful with moderately-performed mare Feel The Rhythm, Alford registered his first win behind a free-legged pacer.
Breaking her maiden status at her 46th start, the daughter of Elsu led throughout from the pole to score from Maximum Jolt and Kristy Ann Hanover in 2:00.2 over 2150 metres.
“That’s my first win with a free-legged pacer,” Alford said. “In fact, I can’t recall ever driving a free-legged pacer before.
“She played up a little at the start, but after that she was very comfortable in her gait.”
With few ‘firsts’ left to register as a driver, Alford ruled out chasing his maiden win as a rider.
“I haven’t won a Monte and won’t be trying either,” Alford said. “I’m too old to be getting out there and doing that.”
Trained by Chris Hunter, Feel The Rhythm had the hopples removed five starts ago, which has led to a noticeable improvement.
The six-year-old’s form has switched from one placing from her last 21 hoppled starts to a win and two placings from four free-legged outings.
“Since I took the hopples of her she has improved quite a bit and hopefully that will continue,” Hunter said. “She does all her track work without the hopples and works the house down, but goes to the races with hopples and is disappointing.
“So I thought, let’s try it, and she has just kept moving forward since then.”
- PAUL COURTS