Queensland Young Drivers Championship title in the sights of Paige Bevan

Promising reinswoman Paige Bevan is in the midst of a career-best campaign in the sulky and her strong form has translated to points in the annual BOTRA Queensland Young Drivers Championship.

The 21-year-old sits atop the leader board of the popular annual race series after the opening two heats on Wednesday evening around ‘The Triangle’.

The year of 2023 has been a prolific one for Bevan, doubling her previous highest season in the bike in terms of winners.

She racked up another in the opening heat of the BOTRA series on Wednesday before again picking up points in the second heat.

After the first two heats, Bevan boasts 20 points and leads from Nathan Rothwell who sits one point adrift.

The opening heat win came behind the Trent Moffat-prepared Shadys Cullect for Bevan on Wednesday.

It was her 25th win of the term in the sulky, bettering her previous career-best mark of 13 back in 2021.

Still with some time to go before the season closes and ticks over to 2024, the young driver could not be more pleased with what she has been able to achieve so far.

Paige Bevan was all smiles after the first heat of the Queensland Young Drivers Championship.

She credits partner and fellow participant Jonah Hutchinson for her driving surge this year, declaring that he had been a close mentor when it comes to improving her driving skill set.

“I am really happy with how it’s all been going, it is definitely my best season yet,” Bevan said.

“I am getting more drives from trainers and getting a lot more opportunities, which is good. The more you drive in races the better.

“I think the important thing is constantly driving and not just getting one or two, because that does not really help, you need to be having a few in a row to be helping and learning.

“Jonah has been a big help to go back through the races where I have driven and given me advice.”

Hutchinson also was in the winner’s circle on Wednesday evening at the Peninsula-based track.

Like Bevan, the 24-year-old Hutchinson is also enjoying his best season yet, driving in 51 victories so far.

He has 48 winners to his name as a trainer, as well.

The Bevan and Hutchinson partnership have been working together for the last few seasons with Paige noting they have slowly developed a better standard of horse in their stable.

From an inside draw, Bevan was able to lead with short-priced favourite Shadys Cullect on Wednesday and hold the front throughout before scoring by eight metres.

The win handed Bevan 15 points to open the series.

“I was really happy with the run and I thought if we could lead, we would have a really good chance,” the young reinswoman said.

“Whenever Trent is able to lead with her, she goes really good and usually finishes top three.

“At the 400 metre mark on Wednesday night, I thought I had the race as she felt so good. When I pulled the plugs she just took off and felt awesome.

“Trent has given me drives before and used my claim, mainly at Albion.”

Bevan drove Devouged for veteran horseman Doug Lee in the second heat and finished in fifth position.

The 21-year-old Rothwell scored in the second heat to rise up the leader board.

Zac Chappenden won the annual BOTRA Queensland Young Drivers Championship last year.

Bevan was involved in the series in 2022 but finished near the bottom of the leader board for points.

Promising reinswoman Paige Bevan.

According to Bevan, the young crop of Sunshine State drivers competing in the series relish the opportunities that come from the increased spotlight on their ability in the sulky.

The third and fourth heats are held on Friday at Albion Park with Bevan having drives for Ryan Veivers and Grant Dixon.

“I really like this series, it is a great idea,” she said.

“It really gives the junior and younger drivers the chance to drive for new people, it gives us the opportunity to pick up drives for those people after the series.

“I am excited to drive both of mine on Friday but especially the one of Grant’s. They both look like good chances with good draws on Friday.”

Bevan recently drove her first ever metropolitan winner.

Following Friday’s heats at Albion Park, the series wraps up back at ‘The Triangle’ on Sunday with the final two races.

Behind Bevan and Rothwell on the leader board after two heats, Angus Garrard, Taleah McMullen and Chloe Butler round out the top five.

By Jordan Gerrans