When Canterbury trainer Riley Evans was announced as the April 2022 GRNZ Board Award winner, he was quoted in saying that he constantly challenges himself to further upskill his knowledge of the greyhound industry.
That statement was clearly illustrated when Evans recently spent a week learning about all aspects of the industry with the respected leading Victorian mentor Robert Britton.
It was an experience that has left a profound impact on the young conditioner.
“For me, it was a life-changing experience in terms of greyhound systems. It was really good meeting a number of top trainers over there.
“To learn from someone of Robbie’s experience and knowledge is irreplaceable. Robbie had an answer to everything I asked and everything he did had a reason to it.
“Everyone over there went out of their way to work with and help me. People like Brendan Pursell were very forthcoming in assisting me, I cannot thank them enough – I was treated like royalty,” expressed Evans, who attended race meetings at Geelong, Sandown and The Meadows during his visit.
He added, “I will definitely go back over there. Maybe I’ll go to New South Wales or go back to Robbie’s place.”
As the winner of the overall GRNZ Board Award, which celebrates young achievers in the sport, he received a $5,000 grant, which funded the trip.
Evans was also very grateful for the assistance he received from the GRNZ Board, GRNZ’s Liz Whelan in arranging the trip and media personality Michael Guerin for sponsoring the inaugural award.
The personal highlight for Evans came when he boxed away the warm $2.60 Race 1 favourite Wheel And Go for Britton’s son Tim at the premier Australian Cup meeting at The Meadows.
The Australian Cup meeting has seen previous Group 1 success for a Kiwi trainer, when Karen Walsh mentored the GRNZ Hall of Fame stayer Thrilling Brat to his emphatic 11.75 length victory in the 2012 edition of the Super Stayers final over 725m.
“It was a freak run after Wheel And Go bombed the start. He went super,” said Evans about the strong finishing 525m race winner. “It was an amazing experience on such a big night of racing. I wouldn’t mind taking one over there if I had the right dog.”
And the Evans trained Goldstar racing team, who has been firing on all cylinders lately, could very well have a greyhound who could potentially mix it up across the Tasman in Goldstar Bennett, who recently broke the maiden 295m track record at Addington.
The son of My Boy Fabio and Frosty Action slipped through his task in a searing 16.94. In doing so, he removed the name of the talented Tony Hart-prepared Postman Pat from the Christchurch Club’s C0 295m record book, after he had delivered his 17.07 race debut win.
“Goldstar Bennett is an exciting prospect for us. As long as he keeps his head together, he could be anything, He trialled in 17.01 prior to his 16.94 fresh-up win. We are very proud of him, and at this stage, we will play it by ear and keep him ticking over at Addington,” stated Evans.
The kennel are also rapt with the current form that Goldstar Carlito is displaying. He has strongly won his last three Addington 520m assignments, with last Thursday’s win being delivered in a slippery 29.71s.
“He is going super, in career best form. We’ll decide after this Thursday’s race if we’ll take him up north for the Auckland Cup. He deserves a crack at a Group 1 race,” advised Evans, about the kennel star who brought up the 170th win this season for the Goldstar racing squad, as they rapidly close in on the 249 winners that they trained last season.
Evans is also looking forward to returning to his other sporting passion – stock car racing. “It has been a bit of a mixed season so far owing to varying factors. I have a big meet coming up soon with the Battle of the Stocks. There’s 32 of us racing and it’s full-on competition.
“I also appreciate the number of people from greyhound racing who come out and watch stock car racing. I guess for all of us it’s a refreshing break away from our greyhounds. It is super fun,” added Evans.
The 21-year-old is also eying up some bigger targets in the sport, with making the successful Canterbury Eagles team, who recently won the NZ Stock Car teams championship in Palmerston North, a goal he has set himself.
“At this stage, I’m probably a couple of years away from racing at that level, although it certainly is a target I would like to aspire to,” admitted the driver.
Back to the greyhound operation and Evans advises the Goldstar team, which includes Dad Steve and Mum Bonnie, have plenty of pups at various stages of preparation.
“We have around 25 pups currently coming through. Breeding is a huge part of our programme and lays a foundation for our racing team. Having Mum and Dad around is a massive help. We are very happy with our current step-up,” reflected Evans.
And that all adds up to the Goldstar team continuing to have a major impact on Canterbury greyhound racing for a long time to come.