Day At The Track

Robinson back with a win and a grin

09:00 AM 04 Jun 2016 NZST
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Chris Robinson
Chris Robinson drove Decapria to victory in a heat of the Alabar Breeders Challenge

Popular harness racing horseman Chris Robinson made a surprise return to the sulky at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Tuesday afternoon when he drove the Rickie Alchin trained Decapria to victory in a heat of the Alabar Breeders Challenge. Prior to last Tuesday, Robinson's last drive in a race was on January 11, 2014 when Major Post finished seventh behind Lettucefib. It was 1165 days between race wins for Robinson with Major Post's win at Menangle on March 23, 2013 his last.

"I was pumped, it was great to be back driving in a race and it was great for Decapria to win as well," Robinson said.

"I have known her owner Jamie (Durnberger-Smith) for years, he actually travelled up with us when White Thunder won the Australian Pacing Gold in 2004 and he rang me on Saturday night to see if I was interested in taking the drive on Decapria."

The two year old filly needed a driver with trainer and regular driver Rickie Alchin suspended.

"I told Jamie I would have a think about it and get back to him. I went to the gallops the next day at Moruya and had a chat to my brother and sister and asked them what they thought.

"My first inclination was to tell Jamie to use one of the regular drivers who compete at Menangle every week but after I had a chat to the family, I thought why not have a drive."

While Robinson has kept his training and driving licences in recent years, he has been enjoying life away from fulltime involvement in the sport.

"I like to pre-train one or two so I have always kept my licence but in terms of being fulltime in the industry I have 'been there done that'. I work for a plumbing business and I know there will be a wage for me at the end of every week and I have been enjoying more time with the family.

"It has also given me time to go to the football or have a holiday without the pressure of knowing the horses are at home and need to be worked."

Robinson admitted he still has a passion for the sport and still bought his National Trotguide every week.

"I still follow the sport, I like to keep a close eye on what is making news and I get the Trotguide each weekend to catch up with stories from across the country.

"Being a fulltime trainer is a grinding job, stables and trainers that can stay at the top for years do a great job. I don't think people realise how hard trainers like Steve Turnbull work. It is a 24 hour, seven day a week job every month of the year."

After Tuesday's victory Robinson was buoyed by the number of mates who had contacted him to congratulate him on the win.

"Even before the race when people saw I was having a drive I heard from people like Dennis Wilson, Darren Binskin, David Aiken, even Blake Fitzpatrick texted me."

Alchin has announced Robinson will retain the drive in the semi finals of the Alabar Breeders Challenge and will also be given the option of driving her in the final should she qualify.

"At this stage the plan is for Chris to take the drive in the semi final on Saturday week and if he does qualify Decapria for the final it would be very hard to take him off for the Group 1, so yes at this stage Chris will drive her," Alchin said.

"I'll see how she gets through the series but I'm considering having a shot at the Breeders Crown as well but I'll just let her tell me if she is ready for that."

Greg Hayes

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