Group One-winning trainer back in the winner’s circle

Group One-winning trainer Cydne Evans recorded her first win since moving to Waverley three years ago when Stringline took out the Riverstone Café Handicap (2100m) at Otaki on Monday in the hands of Kozzi Asano.

STRINGLINE winning the RIVERSTONE CAFE HANDICAP Picture: Race Images Photo

It was the six-year-old mare's fifth start for Evans, who was relatively confident heading into the meeting after the daughter of Alamosa had finished runner-up on the Horowhenua track over a similar distance in her previous raceday outing.

"I haven't had her that long, and she hadn't been a good eater, but since she ran second, she has been licking the bowl clean and has become a happy horse again," Evans said. "I was going into it pretty confident."

Stringline  jumped well and was sent straight to the front by Asano, and the pair quickly opened up several lengths on their rivals. Asano maintained a solid tempo throughout and the pair sustained their advantage until they were regathered by the pack at the 600m mark. Asano pressed the go button at the top of the straight and his charge answered once more, running clear to score a 1-1/2 length victory."

"She had a good draw and everything played into her favour," Evans said. "It was good to see her come back to some form for the owners."

While Stringline has been in her care since December, Evans said the mare wasn't new to her, having worked with her as a juvenile at her former Byerley Park base, and is pleased to get a win on the board with the mare as an older horse.

Evans has been pleased with the way Stringline has come through the race and said she might back-up at Trentham's upcoming Saturday meeting.

"She ate up last (Monday) night and she has turned the corner. She is a happy horse I think," Evans said.

"I have put a cheeky nomination for Trentham, but I don't know if I will run yet because I will see how she goes in the next couple of days. There is a good stake there, so you have to look where the money is.

"We will just keep her happy and if we don't run there then I will find another staying race. She won't go on the heavy stuff in the middle of winter, but she will handle a bit of cut in the ground, so we will play around for a little bit longer."

Stringline brought up Evans' 66th training victory and first in six years, with a number of life events forcing Evans to reevaluate life, culminating in the decision to downsize her training operation and move to Waverley to follow a different career path.

"I have been an Aucklander all my life and I moved down here (Waverley) three years ago," she said.

"I got pretty disillusioned, and I was getting average horses and there wasn't any money in the game. I also lost my partner to cancer. It all snowballed and I decided I had enough.

"I sold my place up in Auckland and had been looking for a farm for a while down the line and this place came on the market and I now rear calves."

While her new career is keeping her busy, Evans said her enthusiasm for racing has reignited and she is enjoying training a small team of horses from her new base.

"I have a couple of handy horses around me, which is getting me enthused again. I just want to play around with a few, it keeps me happy," she said.

It continues a three-decade long training career for Evans, who first fell in love with the sport through attending race meetings at Ellerslie with her father.

"My Dad was an apprentice jockey, but not for long as he got too big," she said. "I used to love going to Ellerslie with him as a little kid. I wanted to be a jockey, but he didn't want his daughter to be in the racing game back then, so I moved into the stud side of things and worked for Charlie Roberts and Don McLaren.

"Dad passed on and then I took out a trainer's license and it has gone from there."

Evans has now posted 66 wins, including two at stakes level courtesy of her former star stayer Cyclades, who won nine races, including the Gr.1 Wellington Cup (3200m) and Gr.2 Queen Elizabeth Handicap (2400m), and was runner-up in the Gr.1 Auckland Cup (3200m).

"We had quite a ride with him," Evans said. "We went to the Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 3200m), we didn't go any good but we made the field.

"It was something you put on your bucket list. He started on the Saturday and just suffered from heat stress after the race. We had to undergo vigorous vet tests to run in the Cup, but unfortunately I think that Saturday took the edge off him, so he just participated pretty much on the Tuesday. But it was a big thrill to be part of it all.

"The crowd was amazing, you had to fight your way to get down to the tie-ups and back. It was quite incredible."

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