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Jockey hungry for greyhound training success

By Isaac Murphy

Queensland jockey Nathan Evans has ridden over 400 winners and counting, but the hoop is far from a one trick pony as his other career as a greyhound trainer begins to flourish.

After holding his training license for just over twelve months Evans finally broke through at Albion Park with his bitch Femme Folle surprising her trainer and rivals alike with a run of 30 seconds flat over the 520m earlier this month.

“It was a bit of a thrill I haven’t had a great deal of starters at Albion Park I’m more based at Ipswich, so to get one home and in that fashion too was unreal, “Evans said.

“I was very surprised when she won over the 520 because I had always planned to step her up to the 600 next start, but her box speed was excellent and got her the win.”

“I still gave her the run over 600 hoping that her box manners would get her out in front which they did, but in the end she used up too much speed early and mid race and got chased down after leading by about 10L mid race, so it’s back to the 520 this week.”

Evans believes he’s found a suitable race for the young chaser in the Grade 5 third over the 520m at Albion tomorrow night, expecting his bitch to relish the inside draw.

“I think we’ve found her a pretty suitable race and if she can show that speed from the two draw she’ll give them a sight and be very hard to beat,” he said.

While Evans plans to juggle his riding and training commitments for the time being his passion for greyhound training is only growing from its humble beginnings.

Evans had always been a lifelong horse man until an enforced layoff begun his venture into the greyhound industry

“I was at home with my partner at the time (Emma Ljung fellow jockey) who was nursing a broken collarbone we were sitting on the couch watching the dogs and thought we’d buy one for a bit of interest, so we looked one up and got into ownership hardly knowing a thing about dogs at all,” he said.

“From there I got hold of Tom Tzouvelis through a friend of Emma’s and Tom said he would take our dog on but he only lasted a few starts.”

Evans interest had been pricked and industry friends led the pair to their next greyhound.

“Once we kind of had a taste for it we wanted to get involved again and when a friend of ours Ashley Sommerfield said he had a young pup with some ability, Emma (Ljung) I bought fifty percent of her and she went on to win twelve races and that gave us the bug,” evans said.

“Kind of through my own interest and Emma’s encouragement I thought I’d have a go myself and apply for my license which took about eight months and I would have finished that just over twelve months ago.”

Evans said despite his love of thoroughbred racing his venture into training had given him career options down the track, he was also quick to point out the way the greyhound industry had welcomed him with open arms.

“I’m getting to that age at 35 where I don’t want to be riding all my life and I need something to do afterwards and hopefully be successful at,” he said.

“I’m actually enjoying training more than riding at the moment, and I feel like I’m learning all the time.

“The industry has really welcomed me, I’ve always got great advice off Tom (Tzouvelis) and every else has been great in giving me a leg up.”

Though Evans is now well entrenched in the greyhound ranks the horseman can see a number of parallels between the thoroughbred’s and greyhounds

“Obviously with my history in race horse racing I try to bring that knowledge to my greyhound training, for example if my dog runs home strongly from midfield I’ll look to step him up in distance next start.”

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Evans, with Femme Folle translating to crazy bitch in Latin he’s had his hands full at home, but with each experience and a growing kennel he’s feeling more at home.

“I’ve got half an acre at home, where I’ve got my three dogs in work and four pups which I’m going to train up which again will be another learning curve but something I’m looking forward too."