NO STRANGER to setting records, ace reinsman Chris Alford grabbed another slice of history at Geelong last night.
Thanks to his upset victory behind Dependlebury, Alford has broken a 10-year-old driving record.
By leading throughout in 1:57.4 over 2100 metres, Dependlebury provided Alford with his 389th win for the season, eclipsing Daryl Douglas Australasian stance set in 2008.
Based on his current strike rate, Alford should burst through the 400-win barrier by the end of the month!
Alford’s ever growing list of records include being the first driver in the southern hemisphere to register 6000 wins and the most consecutive centuries (25) in Australia.
With an unassailable lead in the Victorian Metropolitan Premiership, Alford is poised to equal the great Gordon Rothacker for the most titles.
Rothacker won 14 city premierships, claiming his first with 24 wins in 1949/50 as a 21-year-old.
His reigning years were 1952/53 (23 winners), ‘53/54 (16), dead-heated with Bob Parker in ‘54/55, each landing 14 winners, ‘55/56 (29), ‘56/57(19), ‘58/59 (24 1/2), ‘60/61 (25), ‘63/64 (18), ‘64/65 (16), ‘67/68 (24), ‘69/70 (16), ‘71/72 (19), and ‘72/73 (24).
Alford has 60 metro wins this season, with Greg Sugars his closest rival on 23.
Following his father, the late Barry, into the industry, Alford made his debut as a ‘wet behind the ears’ 16-year-old at Shepparton on September 18, 1984.
Little did Alford, or any onlookers for that matter, realise it was the beginning of one of the most successful careers harness racing has witnessed.
There was no fairytale introduction, however, as Alford, driving Innisfree, finished an inglorious seventh – beaten 23 metres.
Three weeks later, Alford registered his maiden win behind Spring Vance at Wangaratta.
Alford soon notched his first double when Crown Lager emerged triumphant later on the program.
Both pacers were prepared by Barry.
“That seems like a lifetime ago,” Alford said. “I was pretty excited when Spring Vance got the money.
“But I never thought I would get to where I am now when I first started out.”
Almost a year later, Alford claimed his initial metropolitan success when Tempest Neva scored at Moonee Valley.
Trained by Barry, Tempest Neva caused at upset as a 16/1 shot, beating 9/10 favourite, Deux Dark Ones.
“My first city win was also pretty special,” Alford said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”
Quickly establishing himself as one of Victoria’s most talented young drivers, Alford was thrust into the limelight when he combined with an exciting colt named Golden Reign.
Trained by Noel Alexander, Golden Reign provided Alford with his first taste of Group One glory.
Making the trip to Harold Park for the rich Australian Pacing Gold Final, the pair eclipsed a star-studded field over a mile.
“Golden Reign just had so much raw talent as a two-year-old, he was a star,” Alford said. “That was my first Group One and is something I’ll never forget.”
As for his latest achievement, Alford was quick to share the spotlight with those who have supported him throughout the years.
“To have achieved something like this does make you feel pretty good,” Alford said. “I never could have achieved this without the support I’ve had from my family and all the trainers and owners who have trusted me with their horses.
“It is those people who have helped me get to this point in my career and life and I can’t thank them enough.”