Alford trains first winner
By Jonny Turner
Canterbury horseman Jesse Alford became doubly popular with his family when scoring his first win as a trainer with Held To Ransom at Wyndham on Sunday.
Alford missed watching the victory up close after putting family before going to the races and took in the win while attending a baby shower for expectant partner Josie Reid.
Held To Ransom's win meant Reid, who is due to give birth in January, did not just receive baby-related gifts at the celebration.
And the 5yr-old's victory meant she was not the only one going home from the event with a present.
Alford races Held To Ransom with his mother, Petra Curnow, Reid, her brother, Campbell Reid, and her sister-in-law, Joelle Reid.
The trainer's family members came into the mare's ownership after Alford struck up a deal with his employer, Andrew Stuart.
"I joked to Andrew one day about five weeks ago, and said `would you take a certain amount of money for the horse?"' Alford said.
"He looked at me and said `yes', so, I messaged a couple of people that I knew were keen on getting a horse."
The purchase of the pacer prompted Alford to apply for his trainer's licence.
Alford did not have wait long to strike his first success with that licence as Held To Ransom's win came in just his second start for his stable.
The Cantabrian was keen to purchase the Live Or Die mare as he and Stuart were both aware of the horse's ability.
She has been unable to show much of her potential at the races because of hoof problems.
"She is quite a good mare. We think she can win a couple, but she has got a lot of issues," Alford said.
Alford trains Held To Ransom at Woodend Beach to help the mare's battle with her feet issues.
Yesterday's win gave him quick reward for the earlier starts he has each morning before going to work for Stuart.
"I normally get up a bit earlier and train her from the beach and swim her a lot," Alford said.
"I feed breakfast to her and then go to Andrew's place and then come back in the afternoon and finish up with her."
Alford said he would have won his first start as a trainer with the horse had he not handed the lead away in her first start from his stable.
The trainer's commitments in Christchurch meant Jonny Cox drove Held To Ransom to win on Sunday.
Rather than being frustrated at missing out on the winning drive, Alford was happy Cox was able to be the driver who brought home his first winner.
"It was awesome that Jonny could win with her.“
“He is one of my best mates - he is the reason I am in racing."
Stuart, who developed the horse before selling her to Alford's family, also earned credit as the winning breeder alongside partner Becky Sutorius.