Strathalbyn trainer Kristi Evans, 46, has six winners to her credit already this season and was recently tapped on the shoulder by OTI Racing to prepare one of its overseas stayers. She chats to TRSA about her career so far.
Q: You trained your first winner, Keepakiwi, in 2014. How long had you been training before that?
A: Probably a couple of years, but I only had one or two horses for a long time. I’ve only grown that number in the past two years.
Q: How did you get into racing?
A: I grew up in the thoroughbred industry. My parents had a stud when I was a kid, they stood Jon George, who is Beau George’s father. I grew up doing that, and in my 20s my dad passed away. I went away from horses for a while, until I was in my 30s.
My husband was an owner, and we used to go to the races. We were owners for a long time, and I decided to get my owner/trainer licence and just play around with a couple.
That’s why it took me a long time to find my feet.
Q: So, who have you learned the craft from?
A: Probably Mum and Dad have been my biggest influences. Mum’s a great horsewoman – she used to break-in – and she’s taught me a lot.
Over the years Jon O’Connor has also helped me, especially when I first started out. He’s been lovely and very supportive.
But I’ve had different influences. I worked up at Lindsay Park when Peter (Hayes) was running the show. I used to ride work and I worked on the pre-training side there. Tony McEvoy’s also been very good to me.
I always ask a lot of questions. If I can’t work something out, or want some different ideas, I’ll ring up John Macmillan or have a chat to some of the trainers.
I’ve had different influences and watched how different people do different things. I’ve tried to absorb a lot of it, and had the confidence to find my own way a bit, and really concentrate on each horse individually.
Q: And it’s only now that you’re making a conscious decision to take on more horses?
A: Probably the past three years we’ve been trying to build young stock and pick up some tried horses.
My husband, Norm, has been a huge part of the business. He’s great with owners and he puts himself out there and has brought a lot of owners on board.
He’s practically the stable manager, but he’s always available to my owners. A lot of the blokes love having a chat with him. He’ll go and have a beer with them or play golf with them, so he’s very much involved with all the owners.
They know they can ring him or they can ring me, but they tend to gravitate towards him, which gives me the time to do what I need to do. Norm’s the drive behind me and the team. I’ve achieved a lot thanks to him.
Q: You’re having some metropolitan success lately – that must be pleasing?
A: The horses that I’ve got now are much better class and are showing that they can race competitively in town. There are some youngsters coming through that I expect will be city-class horses. It’s just about trying to place them in the right races, really.
I’m looking to have more metro runners, but I’m not afraid to travel – I’ll go where the horses can win.
Q: Who’s the best horse in your stable at the moment?
A: Cashin’ Chex, but I’m A Legend is back in and he’s one to follow.
Q: You were telling me the other day that you’re big on communication with your owners?
A: I get a lot of feedback from my owners about communication. I’ve had a lot of owners come on board and they can’t believe the communication. I take a lot of pride in that – and I appreciate that feedback. The goal is to keep my owners happy and keep the horses coming in and get them racing.
I was an owner, so I know how it feels when you’re not hearing about your horse, or knowing what’s going on. It’s very frustrating.
I put that first. And I’ve got a great team of staff. We keep it relaxed and keep the horses happy and they’re showing that they are happy by racing well.
So, it’s the right time to really have a crack.
Q: Well, good luck, Kristi. I hope the results keep coming for you.
A: Thanks, Paul.