Brent Evans creates history winning second picnic final

Brent Evans with his fiancé Mandy Burke and son Bryce following his win in the NSWPRA Picnic Champion Series final aboard the Brett Robb trained, On A Promise. Photo: Racing Photography.

What a moment it was for Brent Evans at Coonamble on Sunday, with the popular picnic hoop winning his second NSWPRA Picnic Champion Series final aboard the Brett Robb prepared, On A Promise. 

The 30-year-old won the 2019 final when guiding the Mark Ward trained Gadfly to victory, and he became the first jockey in the Picnic Champion Series’ young history to win the race twice.

Evans was able to soak up the moment at Coonamble, coasting to the line aboard the Dubbo-based On A Promise, after finding the front on the home straight.

The pair cantered in for an easy 3.59 lengths victory, beating home the fast-finishing Malibu Stacy and Opera Tickets. 

“He was just travelling, and I was umming and ahhing whether I would let the leaders cross me; I eventually let them cross, and it wasn’t long until I was looking for an out,” Evans said. 

“He was just too good, and the Robb stable prepared him a treat.”

Evans, a former Group and Listed winning jockey, has taken out much bigger races during his career, including the Eyeliner aboard Mittani, the Bet Fair Stakes aboard Rothera, the Gold Coast Guinness on Checkvetdaz and the Maribyrnong Plate prelude aboard Sweet Cheeks.

He was also a champion Queensland apprentice, winning the Queensland jockey’s title in 2008/09, but the born-again amateur reaffirmed that his two picnic final trophies meant just as much to him.

“I might have won some good races, but those two (picnic final) trophies are in the same cabinet and on the same shelf as the Group and premiership trophies,” Evans said.

“They mean just as much, and I would like to win a third one.” 

Evans, who has been riding on the NSW picnic circuit since mid 2019, said he was loving life in North West NSW, riding work for Melanie O’Gorman, while travelling to race meetings with the help of his supporting fiancé, Mandy Burke. 

“I’m very comfortable out here at Tamworth. I’m working with Mel O’Gorman and riding; it’s what I enjoy doing,” Evans said.

“To be able to ride at that heavy weight and still get that winning feeling is the reason I do this, and the family support is there, and it helps out with everything.”

Evans’ winning ride in the rich picnic final was a true testament of what racing means to him, after he travelled 1800kms in two days, riding a double at Albury on Saturday before backing up at Coonamble on Sunday.

“I took the camping mattress in the back of the car so I could pull up and sleep where I wanted to,” Evans laughed. 

“I had a camp at Dunedoo, then I went to Wagga racetrack and had an hour and half sleep in the car before going to Albury.

Brent Evans holds the NSWPRA Picnic Champion Series trophy with connections of the Brett Robb trained, On A Promise, and members of the NSWPRA. Photo: Racing Photography.

“I stopped at Narromine on the way back to Coonamble and by the time I got home to Tamworth last night, it was 1800kms, so it was a fair effort.”

Evans explained that riding and travelling took everything out of him.

“I was buggered at Albury. I was completely buggered by race two. I went in and asked for an extra half kilo to refuel,” Evans said.

“The petrol light was out. I needed the fluids so I could get through the meeting and be right for Sunday.

“It was a long process, and I just fuelled the body with what I could, and I pretty much was just hoping to get through to Sunday and it worked, as I felt good on Sunday and got through the race.”

Evans might be a former professional with over 300 winners to his name, but being an amateur doesn’t come as easy as some might suspect.

The leading picnic jockey works just as hard to make weight and he said the upcoming 2021/22 season was all about his success on the track and a chance to win the jockey’s title.

“I have to diet the week and a half leading into meetings. I jog every day and I train pretty hard to ride at 64 ½ kgs,” Evans said.

“I am really putting my focus into this year. I want a good year. I followed the circuit and rode at the majority of the meetings, and I had a good season winning the final, but I’m really focused on this year.

“I would like to add another premiership trophy to the cabinet.”