First training win for Merv Bryers


Monaro Maro’s maiden trotting win gave 66-year-old Merv Bryers his first success as a trainer at Westport on Friday.

Bryers notched the milestone on the same day Darren Keast was again the toast of the town with a training and driving treble, taking his tally to five wins on the West Coast Christmas-New Year circuit.

Bryers started out in the game in the early 70s as a junior driver in the north and had stints in the stables of Dave Gibbons, Noel Taylor and Don Hayes, accompanying the latter on a trip to America.

He drove five winners as a junior and three more in the early 90s while training the odd horse around that time.

“I was driving against the likes of Maurice Holmes and ‘Wolfie’ 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.”

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 Monaro Mia.”

A three-year-old filly by Superfast Stuart, Monaro Maro began racing at the Marlborough meeting last winter and for the most part had been getting things wrong until getting it right in her 10th start on Friday.

“She was just getting too keen and over racing. I was driving her myself but it got to the point where I figured we needed a good driver.

“So, John (Dunn) drove her on the first day at Westport and while she mucked things up there again, he said just throw some ear plugs in and she’ll be fine, and she was.

“I was going to start at Reefton but John said to save her as she’s just a three-year-old and worth looking after.

“So, we’ll race her at the Nelson and Marlborough meetings in a few weeks and then give her a break, and bring her back for the big races.”

Bryers and his wife Paulette O’Sullivan now have a house right beside the Waterlea track and have taken over Neill’s barn and gear.

He also has an unqualified four-year-old by Imperial Count and another yearling by Superfast Stuart on the books, giving him four trotters to play around with.

“I am a bit of a trotting fan – they’re more exciting.”


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