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Celebrating 81st birthday in style

By Graham Fischer

Veteran South Australian trainer-driver Alan Smith gave himself an 81st birthday present with a win on The Dutchman at Globe Derby Park on Monday.

In winning, Smith joined Queensland’s Ken Parker as the oldest person in Australia to drive a winner.

Parker was 81 when he drove Colada Rose to win at Redcliffe on October 16, 2014. He kept driving until July 2015 when he retired aged 82 and four months.

A $10.20 chance, The Dutchman came off 30 metres in the Lion Pty Ltd Trotters Handicap (2230m) and scored by 14-1/2 metres from Ima Skybabe ($9.60), driven by his grandson Michael Smith, with Arctic Wonder ($37.40), six metres away third.

Smith said he still enjoyed driving but thought he would retire at the end of the season.

“I was going to retire at the end of last season but was talked into going on,” Smith said.

“They’ll have to talk a lot harder this time.”

Smith said The Dutchman had begun well and had a good trail in the running line.

He came wide around the home turn as Variable Miss ($1.70 fav) which had been outside the leader Ima Skybabe went to the front.

No sooner had the favourite reach the front than she galloped leaving Smith clear on The Dutchman which ran out a comfortable winner.

Smith admitted it was tough driving these days.

“The fields are a lot more even so barrier draws are crucial,” he said.

“However, I still enjoy competing and wins are a bonus.”

Images- Graham Fischer