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Alford Pleads Guilty

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Harness racing trainer caught on camera injecting horse in undercover sting

Sam Sherwood16:45, May 05 2021
 
Jesse Alford injected horses he trained with formalin, a banned substance.
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF
Jesse Alford injected horses he trained with formalin, a banned substance.
 
 

Details of a secret sting that caught disgraced harness racing trainer Jesse Alford injecting two horses with a prohibited substance have emerged at a hearing where integrity officials called for him to be banned from the sport for nine years.

Alford appeared at a penalty hearing before the Judicial Control Authority at Addington Raceway on Wednesday after pleading guilty to two charges of administering a prohibited substance on race day and one charge of attempting to administer a prohibited substance.

At the hearing it was revealed that Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) investigators planted a hidden camera near the Woodend Beach stables the 30-year-old shared after receiving a tip he was doping horses.

On February 25 they caught him red-handed as he injected two horses, Johnny Nevits and Jimmy Cannon, with a substance, and attempted to tube one of them, two hours before they were due to race at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club meet at Addington Raceway.

 

READ MORE:
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* Police investigating complaint about young harness racing trainer Mitchell Kerr
* Prominent harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath admits charges but denies 'tubing' allegation

Tubing is an illegal process that allows a chemical solution to be administered to a horse to improve its stamina.

 

The hidden camera footage was among evidence presented at Wednesday's hearing.

According to the summary of facts, Alford injected Jimmy Cannon in the neck using a syringe filled with 10 millilitres of formalin, which contains about 10 per cent formaldehyde, while another person, whose name is suppressed, held the horse by its head collar.

Horse Jimmy Cannon had eight podium finishes in 36 starts. The horse has since been put down.
SUPPLIED
Horse Jimmy Cannon had eight podium finishes in 36 starts. The horse has since been put down.

The administering of formalin is banned as it can affect a horse’s cardiovascular system.

Alford then tried to tube Johnny Nevits using a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and water – commonly known in the industry as a milkshake. However, the procedure was abandoned after the horse became “fractious” and the person assisting Alford said they didn’t feel comfortable.

Alford then injected Johnny Nevits with formalin.

Moments later RIU investigators raided the property. They found a plastic bucket of tubing gear, including a rubber hose and plastic funnel, several empty syringes in a wheelie bin, a third syringe loaded with formalin and a 2-litre plastic container half-filled with the substance.

Jesse Alford arrives at Addington Raceway for his Judicial Control Authority hearing on Wednesday.
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF
Jesse Alford arrives at Addington Raceway for his Judicial Control Authority hearing on Wednesday.

All three horses were scratched from racing that day and taken away for blood testing.

Betting records showed several unusual bets had been placed on Johnny Nevits and Motor Mouth, another horse trained by Alford, the day before the race. Motor Mouth was initially paying $9 to win one of the races but at the time it was scratched, it had fallen to $2.80, indicating large amounts of money had been bet on it.

Alford asked the investigators: “What made you guys come out here today? Was it the betting? ... It must have been the betting.”

In a statement, Alford admitted injecting Jimmy Cannon with a “bleeder shot” and attempting to tube Johnny Nevits.

 
 

He initially denied injecting Johnny Nevits, but later came clean.

In submissions to Wednesday’s hearing, the RIU said there were several aggravating features to Alford’s offending, including the type of substance used and the serious impact it could have had on the horses’ health.

There was no legitimate reason to inject formalin into a horse, it said.

“In fact, it is so harmful to animal welfare that there have not been any studies into the effects of its intravenous administration – nor can there be, no ethics committee would approve such a trial.”

The RIU said it believed Alford would likely have administered a substance to a third horse, Motor Mouth, if RIU investigators had not arrived when they did.

Jesse Alford was suspended in February after Racing Integrity Unit investigators caught him administering a substance to two horses. (File photo)
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
Jesse Alford was suspended in February after Racing Integrity Unit investigators caught him administering a substance to two horses. (File photo)

The impact of Alford’s offending on the industry’s reputation was “significant” and there had been “intense media scrutiny”.

RIU counsel Michael Hodge said the offending was at the “top end”.

“[It] conforms to the very worst stereotypes ... against the industry – that it’s rigged and trainers cheat, that it’s harmful to the welfare of animals. Those stereotypes are wrong, they’re unfair, they're not representative or accurate.”

Alford should be banned from the sport for up to nine years, Hodge said. That penalty factored in a 25 per cent reduction for the trainer’s early guilty plea.

Alford’s lawyer, Kerry Cook, asked for a disqualification of four years. Alford briefly addressed the committee, saying he was “very remorseful”, and the disqualification would have a “massive impact” on his life and his family.

 

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21 minutes ago, Pegasus 9 said:

He should be banned for life. Disgusting and cruel. No regard for the horses welfare. He is scum. 

I couldn’t agree more, now they know what to look for in the retesting of race samples. I think a number of dodgy trainers will be sweating. I just hope they go through with it..🤞

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45 minutes ago, chevy86 said:

Formalin (formaldehyde)!! Isn't that usually used as part of the embalming process with DEAD animals? Is there a vet  "in da house"?

It is human embalming fluid used in various concentrations . Bloody unbelievable  !

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On 5/7/2021 at 10:55 AM, Hunter the punter said:

U would be surprised 

Well why dont you tell us so we can all gasp in amazement then move on

. An idiot elsewhere says its RIU and  lawyer Kilcoyne says he's on the case to find the perpetrator. 

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1 minute ago, Hunter the punter said:

Vets have been using  it for 15 years for horses bleeding  out ie accidents where they have trouble  stopping  the blood from clotting it's no big secret  u just u have to be observant ask questions  ? or u starve 

Do you have evidence of that or you are just using hearsay...???

 

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