Chris Alford has nominated Shake It Mama as the best of an incredible book of drives on Super Sunday at Tabcorp Park.
If you wanted to have just one driver in the sulky this Sunday for the 2012 Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown day there is no doubt most would be putting their faith in the unstoppable Chris Alford.
It has been a stunning season in which he has just notched up the triple hundred and with any luck will break the $2 million stakes barrier in the next few days.
It was all capped by a quartet of Vicbred Super Series winners which included Shake It Mama and Blitzthemcalder, who will both line up as key drives this weekend for the Bolinda based horseman. He played more than his fair share in getting both winners to the line in those races and he will again be called on when the curtain is drawn on the season in a Group 1 extravaganza.
Blitzthemcalder has been described as a stunning individual and he has the talent to match it. The squaregaiter has burnt to nine wins from just 12 starts but the kicker is: he has never been beaten when he has trotted truly all the way. In fact, in what was a magical drive, Alford even got him home in the Vicbred Super Series Final for two-year-old trotters after he galloped at the start and lost valuable ground.
“He came off the gate really well at Maryborough (in the heat of this race) and I think when he broke from barrier one in the Vicbred Super Series final it was a bit my fault for trying to get him away from the fence instead of letting him go forward,” Alford said.
“He’s a very, very good horse. He’s maturing a bit more all the time, the draw might have been a concern a few weeks ago when he was being a bit naughty but Ross (Payne) has put a lot of work into him.”
His driver noted that even with more experience he may not have the early toe to lead but with any luck throughout the race he will look the winner. Blitzthemcalder isn’t just a flash in the pan juvenile either; Alford has predicted big things for the son of Metropolitan.
“For what he’s done this time in it’s pretty remarkable considering how big and bulky he is. Once he fills out a little bit more he’ll be the real deal,” he said.
Shake It Mama is considered Alford’s other big gun for the afternoon and after showing plenty of potential early in her career she has strung together a few important wins leading up to the final.
“She’s flying at the moment, her run last week was super – well probably all of her last five or six have been. It will shock her having a good draw for a change. She is right at the top of her game,” Alford said.
Her only blemish came in the semi-final last week from a tricky inside second row draw which saw her deposited three-wide without any luck. On Sunday however, she will step from gate four and will hope to continue the Group 1 domination for trainer Emma Stewart in the three-year-old fillies division this season. A domination which has seen the Smythes Creek trainer take all three of the available fillies Group 1’s on the Victorian calendar.
The race won’t be a pushover for the formidable trainer/driver combination with Western Australian filly Sensational Gabby running the race of her life for second in last weekend’s semi-final. And that’s without even mentioning the ilk of Twist And Twirl, Marquess De Posh, Beauty Secret and Louvre.
Alford turns trainer in the Blue Chips Farm Breeders Crown final for three-year-old trotters when he brings Triumphant Monarch to the races. The ex-Tony Herlihy runner will be back in New Zealand within a few weeks, but while here the state’s leading driver has kept him ticking over and has him ready for an assault on what punters have determined a three-way stoush.
“We’ve got a good draw behind Aldebaran Shades so touch wood he will get away well and hold the front and we’ll be sitting behind waiting. If Cyclone U Bolt has to do some work we are going to have the last shot at them,” Alford said.
The Dean Braun trained gelding Mustang Mach has flown under the radar recently but after knocking off two of the biggest names in pacing – Sushi Sushi and Excel Stride – in his recent starts he will be out to exercise his Breeders Crown demons from last year.
He finished fourth beaten just under ten-metres in the three-year-old final for colts and geldings but there is no doubt he is in as good, if not better form this time around.
“Mustang Mach is very quick off the gate, we don’t usually use him much so it will just depend what happens early with Caribbean Blaster,” Alford said.
Even with the likely favourite Sushi Sushi sidelined the race shapes as a classic with Caribbean Blaster joining the Mach Three colt off the front line and Excel Stride and Abettorpunt ready to land a knockout blow from the back row.
When nominating his best drive for the card there was a bit of toing and froing with the superstar in the sulky finally settling on Shake It Mama.
With Alford’s most successful season as a driver almost complete, 2012 Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown day has become a legend making day and with so many good drives he is sure to be in the thick of it again.
“I’ve had my best year numbers-wise so far, it’s been good so it would just be nice to top it off with another Group 1 Sunday. If I get one I’ll be happy and anything else is a bonus.”