Merv Bryers was back in the winner’s circle with Monaro Maro at Motukarara on Sunday. Photo: Race Images.
Blenheim’s Merv Bryers has driven a few winners over the years.
The thing is though, before Sunday’s success with Monaro Maro at Motukarara, one has to go back to the spring of 1992 for his previous win with Jolter in Auckland.
Bryers drove three winners around that time, but prior to that, one has to go back another 20-odd years to when he had five wins as a junior driver.
“I was driving against the likes of Maurice Holmes and Wolfie (Peter Wolfenden) in the early 70s, but after I went to America they made me an open horseman and things got too tough so I got right out of the game for many years,” Bryers said.
“But, then the kids flew the nest and I moved to Blenheim three years ago – I got a new wife and I started helping out Brent Weaver.”
Trainer Graham Neill wasn’t far away either and one day he asked Bryers to drive Monaro Mia at the trials and also in a few races at the start of her career last season.
“Maurice Wharton had bred her and the next thing I know he’s giving me Monaro Maro and a half share in a yearling colt which is a brother to her.”
Manaro Mia and Monaro Maro along with that Superfast Stuart yearling brother in Monaro Mako are foals from Monaro Miss, a good mare for Wharton with seven wins and numerous placings under trainer Neill.
Monaro Mia was her third foal and would go on to win last year’s Northern and Waikato Trotting Oaks while being second at the Jewels to Winterfell before a sale to Australia, where she won a G2 race at Albion Park in December.
Monaro Maro began racing as a two-year-old at Bryers’ local Marlborough meeting last winter before reappearing in the spring.
She was mostly over-racing and getting things wrong before getting things right and winning for driver John Dunn on the second day of the Westport meeting at Christmas, which gave the 66-year-old Bryers his very first training success.
Monaro Maro then reverted to getting things wrong again in a few races when driven by Dunn and Tim Williams, but Bryers took to driving her again at the Coast meetings earlier this month.
At Westport she went for a gallop late in the piece, but at Reefton when the rank outsider bar one, she was a certainty beaten, storming home late after being last at the 400m to be beaten a nose and a head.
Monaro Maro and Bryers confirmed that performance when simply outclassing their rivals at Motukarara however.
Bryers was happy to move from three fence to race in the open down the back and Monaro Mia put the leader in nine-time winner Soney Beatt away passing the 600m.
They were never in danger from that point and only four-race winner B K Dawn was able to make up any ground, although she was still three lengths in arrears with over five lengths to the rest.
It was a timely success as well as the win will ensure Monaro Maro of a start in Friday night’s G2 $50,000 NZ Trotting Oaks at Addington, where she won’t be without a chance for Bryers and his co-owner in partner Paulette O’Sullivan.
Monaro Mia was third in the event last year behind Luby Lou and Girls On Film.
Monaro Maro’s career is clearly on the upswing, but the career of Corena Lea came to an end of a winning note half an hour later when she took out the Waihora Rugby Club Pace for fillies and mares for breeder-owner-trainer Grant McStay and driver Gavin Smith.
It was just the second win in 58 races for the six-year-old daughter of Changeover, the half-sister to Seel The Deal having gone in foal three months ago.