Evans enjoys winning return at Coonamble

Brent Evans was all smiles after winning his second race aboard Step ‘N’ Dollars at Coonamble on Saturday. Photo: Racing Photography.

Tamworth picnic hoop Brent Evans hadn’t been to the races since September last year when finishing fourth on Hokkaido in the 2019/20 NSW PRA Picnic Champion Series final. 

In the 11 months following the final, the 30-year-old battled weight issues and suspension, but he finally returned to the saddle at Coonamble on Saturday, celebrating with a winning double. 

“The weight is the biggest issue with my riding – I get out to 70kg or 71kg,” Evans said. 

“When they spread the meetings like they have been lately, I struggle, but when they are racing every couple of weeks, I can get the weight down and keep it down.”

Evans admitted it was a tough lead-up to Coonamble, with the former Group and Listed winning jockey needing to shed weight quickly.

“It was a tough week and a half. There was heavy dieting and lot of training, that’s for sure,” Evans said. 

“I just need to maintain now. I’ve done the hard work going into Saturday, so I will just keep training and hopefully pick up a few rides at the next meeting.”

Evans won aboard the well-fancied Danspur for Gavin Groth in the 1300m Open Trophy Handicap before helping former maiden galloper Step ‘N’ Dollars to a strong win in the 1400m Class B Handicap. 

From five rides, Evans also finished second on Japingka for Kieren Hazelton in the 1100m Class B Handicap and third on Benoni for Connie Greig in the 1200m Maiden Plate. 

“I went down there with a couple of good chances,” Evans said.

“I would have been happy to get a winner with some change but getting two and topping it off with a maiden winning out of its grade – it made the day.”

Evans has been keeping busy, riding track work for Melanie O’Gorman six mornings a week, but he admitted he was looking forward to the picnic schedule returning to some normality with the warmer months approaching.

“We have no meetings scheduled until the (Picnic Champion Series) final, but there is a whisper that there will be another pop-up meeting,” Evans said. 

“I would love to keep riding, i really enjoy riding at the picnics and I had a good day on Saturday. 

“It keeps you busy over the weekend, and it is good fitness, but we need a few more meetings.”

As far as any potential rides in the $50,000 Picnic Champion Series final at Coonamble on October 10, Evans, who won the 2018/19 final aboard Gadfly for Mark Ward, wasn’t giving too much away about his potential ride. 

“I have a couple of offers there, but I just need to confirm first,” Evans said.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”

It was nice to see picnic racing return at Coonamble on Saturday, and it was no surprise to see Brett Robb and Maddy Wright teaming for more success. 

The Dubbo couple combined for a treble, with Hot Charlie winning the 1200m Maiden Plate, Combogolong proving too good in the 1100m Class B Handicap and On A Promise saluting in the 1100m Open Trophy Handicap.  

Canberra trainer Doug Gorrel was also rewarded for making the 13-hour round trip with Georgian Court boulting in for a strong victory in the 1600m Class Two Handicap. 

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