Afford back in form

03 January 2018 | Graham Fischer

Port Pirie’s reigning leading trainer Dale Afford has had a slow start to the 2017-2018 season but was back in form on Friday to end 2017.

In a meeting shortened to just four races with lighting issues, Afford came away with a winning double.

On this year’s Port Pirie premiership table, Afford was outside the top three with Waylon Hornhardt the leader by 25 points from Justin Brewin with Lyndon Hall a further five points away third but expect Afford to challenge the leading trio.

Perhaps his first winner, My Valaroso might have caught the stable by surprise in the Hopkins Saddlery Pace (2050m).

A $17.40 chance, My Valaroso came along the sprint lane to score a four metre win from Carbon Crest ($4.60) with Lifeasweknowit ($6.90), a nose away third.

The stable also had Bedrock Fred, the $2.20 favourite engaged with Danielle Hill in the sulky, but the seven-year-old never really got clear and finished an unlucky sixth.

Afford said My Valaroso had been sent across by good friend Peter Thompson, now based in Victoria working with Andy Gath.

“Both Peter and Andy said this horse would win a few races and have been most surprised he had not won before tonight,” Afford said.

“In fact, they offered to give us our money back, but I said we would stay with him.

“When he first arrived, his work was a bit flat but lately, there has been an improvement and it looks like he is now ready to show the form they had expected.”

Afford brought up a double when Canelliesparkle, backed from $2.30 into $1.90 favourite, sat parked before scoring a 1-1/2 metre win in the Henry Osborne Fodder Store Pace (1609m).

It was the four-year-old mare’s first win, but she did it in style beating Aguero ($2.80) with Opinionated ($10.20), a metre away third.

“I think she is a mare which can go on and win a few races,” the trainer said.

“She has raced well against good opposition and thoroughly deserved tonight’s win.

“Ideally, I would not have sat parked, but I thought it was the best plan to make sure she had a trouble-free run.

“When she hit the lead she got a bit lost but was ready for the challenge when the runner-up came up on her inside.”

Afford said he was delighted to win a race for owner Mary Boehm.

“She is the perfect owner, and even if I drive a poor race she accepts it with dignity and tells me not to worry. She loves harness racing and I’m hoping Canelliesparkle can give her a lot more joy.”