Robbie Close wins for employer

J Scott Latest News


Successful junior driver Robbie Close advanced to 21 seasonal wins when he guided
Reklaw Supreme to win at Forbury on April 2 for employer Mark Jones.

Robbie was the South Island leader for the NZ Junior Drivers Championship beginning April, 10 points clear of Stevie Golding, with fellow Overport Lodge juniors, Kimberly Butt and Michelle Neilson next.

He is currently second on the NZ Junior Drivers Premiership, four wins behind Craig Ferguson, who also gained experience under Mark Jones during winter stays in Canterbury.

Robbie Close, formerly a South Aucklander, had stints with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, and Barry Purdon, before moving to Canterbury in search of opporunities five years ago.

He spent three years with Robbie Holmes before transferring to fellow North Canterbury trainers Greg and Nina Hope.

He was rewarded with a New Zealand Cup drive behind the Hope-trained Jason Rulz in the 2013 New Zealand Cup, the pair finishing eighth behind Terror To Love.

They also combined to run fourth to Christen Me in the 2013 Group Two Glenferrie Farm Canterbury Classic.

This year Robbie teamed up with the Woodend Beach arm of the Mark Jones stable.

He was luckles in his first drive for the stable behind Goodness Gracious Me when she was badly in season and subsequently failed badly at Addington on February 20.

Regular driver Blair Orange had Auckland commitments on February 20 but returned to Addington a week later when Goodness Gracious Me put her seasonal complaint aside to win at the Cheviot meeting on March 1.

Robbie made the most of his catch drive behind Reklaw Supreme at Forbury, when co-owner and regular driver Wayne Higgs took a night off.

Reklaw Supreme, downgraded last month, made the most of a slightly easier race in the
C1-2 Stunin Cullen/Pinelea Farm Handicap Pace.

He tangled away but quickly settled with Robbie sending him to the top with 1800m of the 2700m pace remaining.

They were always travelling too well for early leader Johan’s Jet, coming clear by two lengths in strong 3:26.9 (2:03.3 mile rate) for the stand-start 2700m.

Reklaw Supreme, a 6YO Christian Cullen gelding, was purchased by Wayne and Mervyn Higgs out of the Greg and Nina Hope stable in December when Wayne decided to make a return to ownership and racedriving.

Now the winner of six from 58 starts, Reklaw Supreme will try for back-to-back wins when he returns to grass track racing at Motukarara on Sunday.

Wayne, who drove his first winner at his third racedrive behind Bronze Touch at Nelson in June 2000, formerly drove in a New Zealand Cup himself.

He partnered his former top horse White Arrow to finish unplaced in Mainland Banner’s 2005 Cup.

Wayne returns to the sulky behind Reklaw Supreme on Sunday but will have to overcome an outside second row barrier over the mobile 2000m.

By Jeff Scott