Day At The Track

89 y-o all set for Redwood

04:00 PM 02 Aug 2019 NZST
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Frank Evans,Harness racing
Frank Evans had success as a driver, but now concentrates on training.

Win, lose or draw, St Arnaud harness racing legend Frank Evans will still be beaming during the two-day Redwood Carnival at Maryborough, one of the premier events for the season.

Eighty-nine-year-old Evans, a gentleman of the sport, will again be part of the electric atmosphere with a runner at today's opening meeting at Carisbrook Raceway and then again on Sunday.

The carnival, bookmarked on the calendars of harness racing participants and fans across Australia, promises to be the best ever staged.

There will be two days of first-class racing with 21 exciting square-gaiter events, involving 96 horses today and 94 trotters two days later.

The eagerly-anticipated carnival is as much about the color and heritage of square-gaiting as it is about the more than quarter of a million dollars in prizemoney on offer.

But Frank Evans' daughter Kaye Boyd said for her dad, it's about both!

"It's a bit of an annual tradition for dad, and he's been talking about this year's Redwood Carnival for weeks now," she said.

"He's always been into trotters and he'd be greatly disappointed if he didn't have a runner in one of the races.

"He wouldn't miss it and thinks it's a fantastic concept. But I can honestly say that at first, he didn't think it would take off."

It was back in the 1980s when the Victorian Square Trotters Association put the carnival concept to Maryborough Harness Racing Club, a strong supporter of trotters.

Needless-to-say the club jumped at the chance and the ever-popular celebration of the trotter was born.

The Redwood name is well-known and highly respected throughout the industry, going way back to the early days of harness racing in Victoria.

The historic $50,000 race on Sunday is named after Hugh Redwood, a former VSTA president and founding member.

Evans, who still trains from his base on the edge of the St Arnaud township where he's been for the past 40 years, will be hoping Our Ivy (Muscles Yankee US-Nandy Noot NZ (Malabar Maple USA) puts her best foot forward.

The brown filly will today contest the Garry Angus Memorial 2YO Maiden Trot, with Ararat horseman Michael Bellman taking the reins.

Evans purchased the trotter at the sales and named it after his late wife, Margaret Ivy, who passed away two years ago this November.

"Dad reckons the Redwood attracts the older fraternity of the industry and I know there is lots of reminiscing and catching up with friends," Kaye said.

"We have a laugh because he talks about this 'old guy', and that 'old fella'-but most of the time they're younger than him!" Kaye said.

"But they are just great days. Dad is still enjoying good health, not that he's one to complain. He doesn't like that sort of stuff.

"He could certainly tell some stories because he's lived a colorful life and been a jack of all trades. Among many jobs he was a drover, then tried his hand as a butcher and trained horses for other people."

Evans has trained 140 wins and 194 placings for more than $615,000 over the years.

He would be best recognized for his achievements with trotters and one that comes to mind is grey filly Lunar Lass who took out the Victorian Derby and Oaks years ago. She finished with 10 wins and 8 places from 33 starts.

The likeable horseman had his last drive at Horsham on February 17, 2014, on a horse he bred named Upandgone (Yankee Paco USA-Misty Gift (Straphanger USA). The chestnut mare was unplaced on that occasion but did finish with 8 wins and 23 places.

And although his focus is on the carnival at the moment, Evans is looking eagerly towards future Redwood Carnivals, having a yearling in his stable sired by boom French stallion Love You (Coktail Jet-Guilty Of Love (And Arifant), whose progeny are winning top trotting races all over the world.

Kaye, who's been secretary at St Arnaud Harness Racing Club for 15 years, is currently on a family holiday interstate and won't be trackside with her dad.

"I'm kicking myself, but I'll be watching it on television."

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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