By Isaac Murphy
Nathan Evans is a busy man. The jockey, horse and greyhound trainer juggles his time between his passions, but his focus is firmly on his Group placed bitch Femme Folle who returned in brilliant style last Monday. She jumps from her pet box at The Creek this Thursday night.
Evans said she looked like she had the fire back in her belly after the first up 22.59 romp over the 395 metres, after a three-month spell threatened a premature end to her racing career.
“Towards the end of her last preparation she wasn’t enjoying her racing and didn’t look interested anymore. I was ready to retire her, my ambition has always been to breed with her and I thought she might have done enough to throw a few good litters,” Evans said.
“Instead of continuing to run her I got some good advice off the late Col Byers and Tom Tzouvelis that bitches just sometimes take a while to get back into gear, that is probably why I persevered with her.”
“I tried to bring her back a couple of times unsuccessfully, so I gave her a longer break without any work and got her bounce back, it was great to see her show that want to race first up.”
As a two-and-a-half-year-old in December of 2018 the sky was the limit for the sprinter, her first trip away garnishing a Group placing, but it was on her return home that the troubles started.
“She won down at Wentworth Park, which had always been a dream of mine and then ran second in the Group Three Christmas Gift Final, which was a massive result,” Evans said.
“The problem when we came back to Queensland was her grading, she’d gone from a Mix 4/5 bitch to open class and really struggled to mix it when thrown in with open class dogs, Her confidence took a massive dive.”
“Wherever I’ve taken her 30 flat is the best she goes over the 520 and that just wasn’t up to what the best dogs were running at home.”
Despite his best efforts Evans just couldn’t seem to find the Femme Folle of old, but finally after her most recent spell which saw her almost three months off the scene, she got the glint back in her eye.
“She started to look like her old self again at home, I thought I’ll give her one last preparation and try to go out with some winning form at Albion Park and Capalaba,” he said.
“She’s pulled up so well from the other day I’ve put her straight in on Thursday night and she’s come up with her favourite box in the pink, which is a huge help against a classy field.”
“In my opinion if she was able the cross them, they wouldn’t run her down, but that’s the only way she’s going to beat them it’s a bit beyond her trying to run down Big Bad Bob, Wise Misty and especially Silver Stunner.”
Evans is confident of a successful swansong while balancing riding commitments and weighing up a potential breeding career, but said the bitch owed him nothing making a name for himself in greyhound circles.
“She’s already done so much for me. Starting off in the industry I wasn’t well known but whenever I’d travel to race one of my other dogs someone would pull me up and ask about that good bitch I had which stills gives me a lot of pride,” he said.
“I’m still riding. I’ve been saddling up in New Caledonia in Noumea for a couple of stints in the last two months and rode a winner in Toowoomba a couple of weeks ago.”
“It’s still a passion and I get great enjoyment out of it. It’s a real bonus that I can balance that with another passion of mine in greyhound racing, I’ve also recently got my thoroughbred license and bought my first horse, so I’ve got my hands full.”