Jockey Nathan Evans was all smiles after winning the 2021 Rocky Amateurs Cup. Photo Tony McMahon.
Jockey Nathan Evans was all smiles after winning the 2021 Rocky Amateurs Cup. Photo Tony McMahon.

Jockey Evans makes triumphant return home

Toowoomba jockey Nathan Evans made a triumphant return home when he landed imposing grey Factory Warrior ($5) a narrow winner of the $30k Rocky Amateurs Cup (1600m) at

Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park races on Saturday.

On a busy 10-race card where exciting and close finishes dominated, Factory Warrior won by a half-head from an unlucky and fighting Mr Phenomenal ($13) with The Tax Accountant ($4.40) a nose away third.

Factory Warrior is trained in Toowoomba, where Evans has been based for well over a decade by Mark Currie.

A son of retired Rocky hoop Gary Evans, Nathan served his apprenticeship in Rockhampton under the late John Cooney and naturally he was elated by his feature race success on Saturday.

When asked when he last rode at Callaghan Park, he paused, thought for a few moments and replied “honestly I can’t remember”.

Based at Helidon on the outskirts of Toowoomba, many years ago Evans successfully turned his hand to greyhound training and has enjoyed wins this season with Lily Street and Miss Neisha.

Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale set a standard that is going to be difficult to repeat when Accelerant ($2.25), his latest southern tried horse acquisition, won Saturday’s Maiden (1300m).

It was Vale’s third winner in five days starting with Sayil (IRE) at Mackay last Tuesday followed by Trump Me at Townsville on the Thursday.

When asked if he could recall a similar feat from any other Rocky trainer, with modesty Vale said “no but I think it is the first time those three (clubs) have raced that way”.

Vale went within a nose of a winning double when Ordell (Chelsea Jokic) was second to Zoe Hohn’s perfectly presented, the very fit Ruffin’ It (Chris Caserta) in the BM60 (1600m).

Ordell should soon atone as it did not have the best of luck in running.

Brisbane’s Les Tilley took riding honours winning on Roma trainer Craig Smith’s Rostrum ($2.70) in the Maiden (1050m) and Dalby trainer Matt Kropp’s Cold Hard Fact ($7.50) in the QTIS 3YO (1300m).

Tilley is in the pink of health as he follows a strict “sugar free” diet to make the 54kg for Master Jamie in Saturday’s $175K BRC GR3 Sprint (1350m) at Doomben.

“I was walking around at about 60kg just over a week ago but I have cut out the sugar foods and am eating correctly. I have ridden at 54.5kg today (Saturday). Recently, I have only been riding around the 57kg mark and above,” Tilley said through his trademark cheeky grin.

In the pink came to mind again when jovial Rockhampton trainer Alan Clark, sporting his trademark pink shirt, teamed with Central West apprentice Alisha Ross to win with outsider Centaur ($26) in the last race, the BM65 (1400m).

In a boilover finish Centaur beat Salazar (Tilley, $21) by a half-length with Taraki (Marnu

Potgieter, $9) a half-head away third.

Leanne Applewaite’s Zoffany gelding Tezoff (Adam Sewell, $10) continued its consistent form

beating Lyle Rowe’s Bantu Bay (Nathan Day, $2.60) in the BM60 (1809m).

Callaghan Park trainer John Wigginton’s Para Park (Potgieter, $2.90) took out the 3YO Maiden (1100m) from Jamie McConachy trained Eveready (Day, $2.70).

However, McConachy shone through less than an hour later to win with Santorini Summer (Chris Whiteley, $10) in an exciting sequel to the BM 60 (1100m) with Bold Talia and Danawi in a three-way photo finish.

Mackay trainer Olivia Cairns’ Last Chance (Ashley Butler, $4.60) made light of its topweight of 62kg to win the Rocky Amateurs Bracelet (1200m) extending his winning trot to three consecutively.

Some savvy Callaghan Park punters cashed in on the hype surrounding William Pike’s impending trip to Rockhampton for the Cup on July 10 by backing his two winners for the afternoon at Ascot, Perth.

The next race meeting at Callaghan Park is on Tuesday, May 25.


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