Alford claims first win at Cromwell

NZ HARNESS NEWS 

The delight of scoring his first victory was evident when Jesse Alford won with Davinia Bellezza at Cromwell on Sunday.

He gave a salute as he crossed the line first with the $18-shot in rain-soaked conditions.

Alford’s first victory came at just his fifth drive and came in the colours of his employer, Andrew Stuart.

The reinsman said he was given some stick by his friends that he should salute if was able to land his first win and he did not let them down.

“It was a heat of the moment thing, but I thought I would chuck one up.

“I was getting a bit of stick from a few people saying you better do a salute if you win.”

Alford’s journey to the winner’s circle is a slightly unusual one by harness racing standards.

Despite sharing the same surname as one of Australasia’s greatest ever drivers, Chris Alford, he was not born and bred in to a life in harness racing like so many others.

“I only just got my licence to drive and had my trial licence for about two years.

“I was just a bit of a causal pub punter when having a beer with a few mates that were in to races and I just got in to it from there.

“I had my first stable visit with Peter Robinson and just fell in love with the game.”

Alford credited Stuart for supporting his step from trial driving to competing on race day.

“He has been a big help, he has been pretty supportive, so it was good to get the first one for him, especially.”

Alford said he planned to keep his feet firmly on the ground following his first win.

“Probably just building confidence and building support from a few trainers will help build the CV.

Heavy rain dampened some of the mood at Sunday’s meeting, but it did little to diminish Alford’s mood when he crossed the line with Davinia Bellezza.

Their win came after the Cromwell track had deteriorated to a heavy condition.

Alford conserved his mare’s stamina by giving her a perfect run in the one-one throughout and waited until he asked her for a full effort once she was balanced in the home straight.

Davinia Bellezza scored by a length at the finish over Bush Man and Sounds Bettor.

Zadaka followed in the hoofsteps of Roxburgh Cup winner, Queen Bee Bardon, by winning Sunday’s Cromwell Cup.

The Roxburgh Cup winner was a New Zealand Cup contender earlier this season and relished the drop in company in Thursday’s feature.

Zadaka, who started in the New Zealand Cup and finished 15th just two starts ago, looked to also relish the step back in company on Sunday with his two-and-a-half length win for trainer Robert Dunn.

Driver John Dunn had the six-year-old in front before the field had gone a full lap in the 2600m feature.

The pacer was having just his second start since his New Zealand Cup tilt.

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