By Duane Ranger
A Marburg track record was just the tonic Mal Charlton needed a couple of months after undergoing surgery on his back.
The 55-year-old Pimpama horseman trained Alpha Styx to a 1:57.9 mile rate victory at Marburg last Thursday (May 23). It was 0.3 of a second quicker than Playnserious's previous 1850m mobile record, which that gelding set on November 12, 2017.
Charlton is now looking for Alpha Styx to go back-to-back and record his 13th win in 71 starts at Albion Park on Saturday night (June 1).
If he does so it will be Charlton’s third winner in nine days. Charlton and his junior driver, Jonah Hutchinson, combined to nail the third race at Redcliffe on Thursday night when Always At Night got up at $5 odds.
“It’s been a good week. Alpha Styx went well and the driver went even better. It’s always nice to get a track record, but I wouldn’t say it was my most memorable moment in about 20 years of racing.
“That would probably be Ali Downunder winning the Q-Bred 3yo Consolation at Albion Park last month (April 13). He’s a nice 3-year-old and probably the best of the six I’m working,” Charlton said.
He said 6-year-old Christian Cullen gelding, Alpha Styx, would have likely been favourite if he had drawn barrier one in the second race on Saturday.
"He's not going to find it easy from the widest second row draw (11). If he can get a soft run and get one go at them, he could win, but it’s only 1,660 metres.
"I see he's in the middle of the market ($16) and the favourites are paying more than $3, so anything could happen. Marburg showed you he has the speed and stamina to do the times," said Charlton, who has trained more than 100 winners.
He reiterated that Alpha Styx would be at 100 per cent again on Saturday, and would this time be driven by claimer, Justin Elkins.
“Jonah has been my regular driver. I really like the way he drives. I think he’s got a big future. I think three of his four wins have been behind my horses. The reason he’s not on the horse on Saturday is because he hasn’t accumulated enough Metro wins yet,” Charlton said.
Hutchinson said he was proud to create a new track record behind one of Charlton’s team.
"Mal's an excellent trainer. Of the eight times I’ve driven for him we have picked up three wins, a second a third, and two fifths. It's great to see him back in good health again because he puts lot of time and hard work into his horses," the 19-year-old said.
Charlton, too, is almost back to 100 per cent after undergoing back surgery at the Gold Coast Hospital in March.
“I stepped in a ditch and turned suddenly and strangely enough did a bit of damage to my fifth disc (vertebrae). I’m all good to go now, but it was quite painful there for a while,” Charlton said.
Meanwhile Saturday’s feature event, race six, the $15,000 Silks Trackside C7 and faster pace looks Lilac Flash's for the taking.
The Kylie Rasmussen trained and driven black gelding bowed to Colt Thirty One last week and although drawn awkwardly (6), the TAB has him as a deserved $2 favourite.
Lilac Flash will be looking for his fifth win in his last six starts. The TAB says $7.50 second favourite, Clintal Do, is the horse to upset him.