Rookie trainer reflects on maiden harness victory

Reflecting on her maiden win as a harness trainer late last month, Bree Evans is glad that the special milestone came with the pacer she refers to as her “pet”.

The 21-year-old is a participant to watch in the harness code, preparing her first victory as a trainer in August as she edges towards taking her first drives in the near future, as well. 

The partner of in-form Queensland driver Hayden Barnes has had a long association with gelding Archilles and it was the five-year-old who delivered Evans her first winner as a trainer.

While the smiling Evans has been around Archilles for much of his life, she only took over the official training duties of him in the middle of July.

He is just the second horse that Evans has trained and the milestone arrived at just her ninth attempt.

Archilles goes by Archie to Evans and it is obvious that he is a coveted pacer to the young industry participant.

“Archie, he is like my little pet,” Evans – who also owns the pacer – said.

“My dad, Graham Dwyer and Lola Weidemann have had him since he was actually yearling, so I named him and he has been very close to me ever since.

“He is kind of my little baby; he is very important to me.

“Even if he is slow, that is ok to me because I love him.”

Driven by partner Barnes on the Friday night from Albion Park, Archie put in one of the best efforts of his 52 start career to hand Evans her first triumph.

He set a new career-best winning time of 1.55.5, after running through quarters of 27.6, 30.4, 28.7 and home in 28.9, to claim the fifth win of his career.

The gelding has been through a handful of trainers’ in his tenure as a race horse but Evans has always stuck by him.  

“I reckon it was the most excited I have ever been, I was very proud of him because a lot of people have said he is slow and he is not very good,” Evans said.

“He proved them all wrong. I was super proud of him.”

After running third at his next start following the victory, Archilles goes in search of his second victory under the Evans banner on Friday at Albion Park.

While Evans would love another win to her name, she says as long as Archilles continues to improve and runs well, then she will be happy on Friday.

According to leading harness analyst Darren Clayton, Archilles is lucky to be alive after a serious bout of colic as a two-year-old in late 2018 and those around him were not even sure if the gelding would make it to the track.

Evans just has one pacer in her stable while Barnes has two, as the three will often work together in the mornings.

Evans also works for the strong Turpin and McMullen team at their Patrick Estate stable, being mentored by recent record-breaking driver Pete McMullen.

“It is a really good stable to work for, they have helped me with Archie, and being there and seeing how they work their big team of horses, it can only be a positive for me going forward,” she said.

Evans has recently taken her first steps towards becoming a professional driver.

She needs to complete three more trials before being permitted by the stewards to make her debut.

She is hopeful of getting through at least one of those this Friday.

To become a full-fledged driver, Evans needs to complete 25 trials all up: 20 from the mobile and five from a standing start.

By Jordan Gerrans