Don’t be surprised if you seeachieve high honours amongst our best Junior Drivers this season. The 21-year-old reinsman, as he puts it, ‘wants to give the Juniors a real crack’ in 2013-2014.
And one man who believes in his driving abilities is one of our greatest all-time reinsman, Methven maestro,.
It was May who convinced Kaiapoi trainerto give the former South Aucklander the drive last Friday night (August 23) behind the talented Bettor Rock On.
The 4-year-oldgelding is now unbeaten in two starts this season after May drove him to one-two-win victory at Oamaru on August 4.
Close had Bettor Rock On in front soon after the start of the $5,500 Muscara Standardbred Pace for Junior Drivers.
From that point they proved too strong in the run home pacing the 2600m stand in 3:19.3 (mile rate: 2:03.3), with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.2 and 28 seconds flat.
He was the $2.90 favourite. Outsiders Tyron’s Falcon Ella (Jessica Young) and Massimo (Matt Purvis) were second and third some 1-3/4 lengths and 1-1/2 lengths away.
“He’s a really nice horse – probably one of the best I’ve driven. He was doing it easy, but he did knock off with about 100 to go.
“It was really good of Ricky and Brendon to give me the drive. He felt like a good horse.
“It was really pleasing to hear that Ricky had been impressed by some of my drives lately. Drivers like him and Blair Orange are reinsmen I really look up to,” Close said.
Close transferred from South Auckland to Canterbury four years ago from his home town of Waiuku. He’s just started his fourth season. He’s driven 43 winners – 22 of them last year.
Asked if he felt the pressure, especially when sitting behind a warm favourite, Close replied:
“Pressure has never been a concern. I am pretty relaxed actually. I talk to the other drivers and really don’t think about anything until the starter says ‘Go’.
“I really enjoyed driving Bettor Rock On. Even though he’s a bit green you can tell he’s going to be a very nice horse.”
Bettor Rock On is the fourth of six foals out of the 17-year-old one-winmare, Jingle Belle Rock.
Her first two foals – Great Balls A Flyin (by) and J D Fortune ( ) won three and six races respectively.
Bettor Rock on has now raced 18 times for four wins and eight placings. He’s won $32,716 in purses.
He is owned by Hill, D.P. McHugh, P.M. Ellis, and Peter Yesberg. He was bred by Yesberg, and A, and R. Hemingway.
Close regarded Bettor Rock On As his number one drive so far.
“Donaldson and Lachlan Jack are some other nice ones I’ve driven also. They are right up there,” he added.
For the record Close has driven two winners and two place-getters from eight drives this season.
He worked for Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett in Waiuku and had a short stint with Barry Purdon before transferring south and taking up a position withat Amberley for three years.
Close has been with Greg and Nina Hope since just prior to last Christmas.
By Duane Ranger
Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand