Winning racing stable a family affair
Every morning, Leda Beck is up feeding racehorses and cleaning stables before most Southlanders are out of bed.
Up at 6am, she has breakfast and makes daughter Sarah's school lunch before heading out into the darkness.
Leda is a mother, a wife and now the winner of one of New Zealand's top jumping races.
Her horse, Gargamel, won the $75,000 Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton this week.
It was Beck's best win in racing.
But her time is divided between her duties as a racehorse trainer and her home life.
Husband Allan was a huge help, she said.
"Once Sarah's at school, we really get into it," she said of training their horses. "We help each other because we don't have staff. Sarah's quite capable and does a lot of stuff herself."
Sarah turns 9 on August 21.
The couple train between 15 and 20 horses but have their own teams. Leda trains and owns gallopers, while Allan is a harness racing owner-trainer-driver.
The Becks have worked more closely in the past month after Leda broke her right leg in three places during a game of social netball. She underwent surgery to have a rod, a plate, a pin and screws inserted in the leg.
"I can't lift anything. When you try and lift something, you've got to balance yourself; it's really hard," Leda said.
With crutches, she is in a supervisory role at the stable and race meetings. She is grateful for the help she has had from track riders Emma Hammond and Sophie Price.
Despite the injury, Beck stuck to her plan to race Gargamel twice at the Grand National meeting in Christchurch. She was determined to be on course to watch him compete.
He ran sixth on Saturday and improved to give Beck a memorable victory in the National Hurdles on Wednesday.
Beck and Invercargill man Jason Spencer own Gargamel and, along with friend Barbara Wilson, watched the National from in front of the public grandstand.
As soon as Gargamel jumped to a clear lead after the last hurdle, Beck thought to herself: "Oh my God, he's going to win."
It was her proudest moment in 19 years of training. As a jockey, she won 36 races during her nine years in the saddle.
Her first boss, Gore trainer Ted Winsloe, won the National in 1962.
Before Gargamel's success, the previous Southland-trained winner of the National was Joint Effort (2010), trained at Mossburn.
The Southland Times