Echuca Cup: Archard family victorious
ECHUCA Cup Day 2016 will perhaps go down as the finest hour for the Archard family of Echuca.
That’s no mean feat either given Rhys Archard’s exploits on the country football field over the years and father Daryl’s success as a trainer.
To sporting folk in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria, the name Archard is synonymous with country football.
Rhys is a premiership player with the Echuca Football Club, multiple interleague representative and league medallist in three different Aussie Rules Football leagues.
At just 20 years of age Rhys won the Goulburn Valley League Morrison Medal – a medal won by a quality list of ex-AFL players and country superstars that include North Melbourne premiership player Craig Sholl.
He then made his way to South Australia where he spent time on the Adelaide Crows list before winning the SANFL’s league medal at the age of 26.
He moved to Adelaide and rode work for Mark Minervini for about a year before getting drafted to the Adelaide Crows.
“Basically then for the next four years I didn’t have much do to do with the horses while playing footy in Adelaide,” Rhys said.
He now plies his trade in Moama in the Murray Football League where he won the league medal in 2015.
To put it bluntly, Rhys is a freak footballer, but he’s also been involved with horses from a young age.
“The old man (Daryl) has been a trainer for almost 40 years, his first winner was Magnifico at Deniliquin in the early 80s.
“It won so impressively he decided to take it straight to Caulfield at its next start.
Rhys ended up riding trackwork each morning from the age of 15 before school up until his move to Adelaide.
Tale #1 – Leveraction wins the Echuca Cup
Without doubt, Daryl’s best horse over the journey has been the 2016 Echuca Cup winner, Leveraction.
After purchasing him for $4,000 in Queensland, Leveraction has become a local favourite among punters by amassing over $350,000 in prize money across the country cups and metropolitan racing circuits.
Darly explains he arrived with a reputation of “being a barrier rogue.”
But the trainer credits the horse’s longevity to the Barmah Sandhills where he does most of his work these days, with only some gentle work on the course proper at Echuca.
Perhaps that’s why the gelding hasn’t had a traditional spell in over twelve months.
— Racing.com (@Racing) May 29, 2016
Rhys says Leveraction is a beauty and they grabbed him for $4,000 up in QLD to try and win the owners the hometown cup at Deniliquin.
“He’s had three goes at it for a second and a third.
“However, his ten wins (including three in town and three country cups) have certainly made up for it.
“As a horse, he is the most friendly animal and that’s why he is universally loved around our stable. He just tries his heart out,” Rhys said.
On Sunday Leveraction found himself in slightly unfamiliar territory, in a 1400m race against some quality Saturday level gallopers in Duibio and Yesterday’s Songs.
As much as $13 was bet about the local in the early play.
Rhys believes Leveraction does his best work probably between a mile and 1800m.
The early track pattern on the day played into the bold frontrunners favour however and the locals (among others) quickly chimed into the double figure price.
Young apprentice Brooke Sweeney rode him a treat and he was too tough for them saluting at $9.80 (S-Tab).
Team Leveraction is truly a family affair with Daryl’s daughter ‘Bo’ often on hand to be Lever’s strapper at the track and Rhys putting in the early hours on the training track and up the Barmah Sandhills.
What’s next for Leveraction? “We’ll press on to the Swan Hill Cup and then just see where his rating is during the winter,” Rhys said.
Tale #2 Make Mine Brandy provides Rhys Archard with his first victory as a trainer.
When Rhys returned from South Australia in early 2011 he would go back to Daryl’s stables where his passion for working horses was reignited.
“Here I am, five years down the track and I’ve got my own first winner, six months after getting my trainers license,” he said.
That horse? Six-year-old mare Make Mine Brandy, who was backed off the map ($5 early into $2.40 SP) in Race 9 on Echuca Cup day after a string of placings since joining Rhys’ stable.
“We purchased Make Mine Brandy from an Inglis dispersal sale.
“We paid $7,000 for her and she has since won us over $40,000 in just over a year,” he said.
The mare had previously spent time in Daryl’s stable which was part of the reason Rhys was keen to secure her.
“Knowing how to get her fit and what type of work she enjoys and doesn’t enjoy was a handy start,responsible.
“Also owning her with a couple of good mates is also quite a special thing to have with my first winner,” Rhys said.
However when quizzed if he was responsible for the betting move on the mare Sunday he had this to say:
“I certainly wasn’t behind the plunge on Brandy Sunday, I thought she would run well with the track wet and that inside gate given the track was choppy down the outside.
“Being Echuca Cup day with a lot of locals around I think some of it was just interest betting and it turned out well for everyone that did back her.
I’m the worst punter on the planet so didn’t want to put the mozz on her!” Rhys said.
— Racing.com (@Racing) May 29, 2016
Tale #3 Apprentice hoop Brooke Sweeney lands the Archard double
The day was also a special one for young apprentice Brooke Sweeney who was lucky enough to ride both Leveraction and Make Mine Brandy to perfection on the day.
Rhys explains that Brooke is no slouch when it comes to riding with almost 90 winners in her own right.
“She really wants to do right by the people who have supported her in the past and now the results are starting to show.
“All she needs now is a few opportunities in town through the winter and I’m sure she will have some success,” Rhys said.
— brooke sweeney (@Brookesween) May 29, 2016
Over the journey the Archard stable has found some success with the likes of Mark Pegus and Jye McNeil who are two lads who grew up in the same district as Daryl (Cohuna and Koondrook).
“Knowing their families well I think Dad felt an obligation to give them a chance and they have repaid him in spades,” Rhys said.
Rhys and Daryl still share a stable block at Echuca and in his own words they “work in well together”.
“The main reason for getting my own license was to basically stand on my own two feet – live and die by the decisions I make.
“Sometimes if we are down a track rider the old man might ride one of mine and vice versa, he only rides the quiet ones though and I’m stuck with the rangatangs,” Rhys said.
Like most young trainers Rhys is always looking for owners and horses but he is happy at the moment and has a great group of loyal owners.
“I want to hopefully build my team up by the end of the year so I can retire from footy. I’m getting too old and the body just doesn’t pull up like it used to,” Rhys said.
Maybe it’s time for a few extra Sundays at the Barmah sandhills with Leveraction and Make Mine Brandy away from the footy oval.