Profile

Chris Alford’s destiny was seemingly laid out for him. As the son of prominent trainer/driver Barry Alford, the odds always pointed towards Alford Jnr playing some part in the harness racing industry.

What might not have been expected, however, was Chris becoming one of the biggest names in the history of the sport in Australasia.

Not only does the man who resides at Bolinda, 50km north of Melbourne, sit alongside Gavin Lang as the only men to have driven more than 5000 winners in the southern hemisphere, he is also a Group 1-winning trainer.

Born on May 18, 1968, Chris has been one of the stars of the sport from almost the time he drove his first winner Spring Vance – who was the first leg of a winning double – at Wangaratta on October 2, 1984.

He had achieved his first century of winners within three years and while he had a four-year wait for his next century, he has driven at least 100 winners every season since 1992/93.

Chris’s first double century came in 1993/94, when he celebrated victory on 204 occasions, to win his maiden Australian Drivers’ Premiership. He drove at least 200 winners for the next seven seasons as well, winning further national driving titles every season from 1995/96 to 1999/2000. He won the Victorian Drivers’ Premiership every season from 1993/94 until 1999/2000. In 2011/12, Chris drove a staggering 336 winners to again take top honours in the Victorian and Australian Drivers' Premiership, a feat he accomplished the following season also.

It was during this time that Chris, who had earned the nickname “Puppet” due to his deft handwork, established a reputation as not only a prolific driver of winners, but a driver who could be relied on in the big races.

His first Group 1 success came in the 1993 Victoria Derby aboard Golden Reign, a horse who went on to provide Chris with what remains his biggest win. In 1995, he teamed with Golden Reign to win the highest prize in Australasian harness racing, the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship, at Christchurch in New Zealand.

Chris also teamed with Golden Reign for Grand Circuit successes in the Treuer Memorial and Tasmanian Pacing Championship in 1994 and Victoria Cup and South Australian Cup in 1995.

Chris represented Australia at the 1997 World Drivers’ Championship in Germany, where he drove three winners, and it was not long after his return he began his association with his next champion.

Tailamade Lombo – who like Golden Reign was trained by Chris’s greatest supporters Noel Alexander and Jayne Davies – became one of Australia’s best all-time mares with back-to-back wins in the Ladyship Mile (1998/99), Tasmanian Pacing Championship (1999/2000) and Queensland Pacing Championship success (2000) just some of her victories.

Chris went several seasons without cracking 200 winners, but was a time that also provided him with one of his most memorable periods in his career. He teamed with Mont Denver Gold, who was trained by his ailing father to win the 2003 Hunter Cup, and beat home all bar Baltic Eagle in that year’s Inter Dominion, at the same venue he won aboard Golden Reign.

That proved to be their last real shot at Inter Dominion glory together with Barry passing away in January 2006.

Chris came painstakingly close to a double ton in both 2005/06 and 2006/07, when he drove 199 winners in each season, but responded with hauls of 247, 246 and 280 the following three seasons.

In 2010/11 he partnered 41 city winners to claim his first Victorian Metropolitan Drivers’ Premiership since 2006/07, having won the Moonee Valley Drivers’ Premiership every season from 1993/94 to 1998/99.

Among his major wins in recent years have been the 2007 Hunter Cup with Sting Lika Bee – his third win in the race, the Mont Denver Gold win splitting his initial success aboard Paris Affair in 1999 – the 2009 Chariots Of Fire with Maffioso, who also provided him with a sixth Australasian Breeders Crown final success that same year, and the 2011 Ladyship Mile with Broadways Best.

As of January 18, 2012, Alford had driven 4447 winners – 30 at Group 1 level – and 7314 placegetters from almost 27,500 drives for a tick over $30,860,000 in prizemoney.

He opened his Group 1 training account in 2011 when he prepared Maidstone Miss to win the iconic Redwood Classic – Australia’s only Group 1 standing start event for 2YOs – at Maryborough.

Chris, whose first winner as a trainer came via Nekita’s Pride at Ararat on September 11, 1987, has increased his training portfolio in recent years and experienced feature success through the deeds of Down Under Muscles, Conquer All and Forrest Babe.