Roger James always knew he would work with thoroughbreds. They have always been his passion, and after experiencing years in the equestrian world; horses were in his blood.
After gaining a formal education, Roger initially embarked on a career in banking, but it wasn’t long before the pull of the “sport of kings” became so strong that followed his heart into racing.
Roger’s distinguished career began with breaking-in and pre-training horses, and after two years he was successful in his application to become foreman for legendary trainer Jim Gibbs.
Roger began learning his craft from one of the best in the business. It wasn’t long before he became a fully licensed trainer himself and stepped into a prosperous five-year partnership with Jim (Gibbs).
Roger and Jim saddled up six Group One winners. Among them was Tidal Light; a winner of 10 races, including the Group 1 New Zealand Derby and Group 1 Canterbury Guineas in Sydney.
After gaining valuable experience and achieving significant success, Roger decided to train on his own and founded Kingsclere Stables in 1987.
Celebrated for being the ‘Derby King’, Roger goes down in history for training the highest number of Group 1 New Zealand Derby winners. Roger achieved this feat through the success of multiple Group One winner’s Silent Achiever, Hades, Zonda, Roysyn and Tidal Light.
Among his long list of accomplishments, Roger has received the Champion New Zealand Trainer of the Year award and has become one of New Zealand’s most iconic trainers.
In a training career that spans over nearly four decades, Roger has trained over 1100 winners (45 in Australia), 28 Group One winners and 135 stakes winners.
Born and raised in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay region on the East Coast of New Zealand, Robert’s affinity for the equine athlete struck at an early age.
One of Robert’s fondest memories as a youngster is of his time spent watching racing with his grandfather Hylton. Military Move’s New Zealand Derby victory, and the elaborate celebration from his jockey Michael Walker remains firmly etched in his brain.
Robert’s parents bought him his first pony at the age of eight and from there, he competed successfully through the show-jumping grades.
Robert took great pride in starting young horses from scratch and competing them up the Grand Prix level, and he was a regular on the New Zealand show-jumping circuit until racing took centre stage.
After leaving school, Robert worked for Lime Country Thoroughbreds. It was there that he gained experience breaking-in, pre-training and preparing yearlings for the Karaka Yearling Sale. He also completed a yearling preparation stint at Windsor Park Stud in Cambridge.
Realising that he wanted an education behind him, Robert based himself in the Waikato, enrolling at Waikato University for a three-year Bachelor of Business Analysis degree, majoring in finance.
Robert immersed himself in the racing world while he was studying and rode trackwork before morning classes for Tony Pike. Following the completion of his degree, Robert joined Kingsclere Stables in the position of Racing Manager.
After proving himself to be a valuable asset to the team, Roger promoted Robert from Racing Manager to training partner at the start of the 2018/19 racing season.
Now, into their second term together, the formidable training partnership is at its strongest. Together Roger and Robert have trained a diverse range of stakes horses from two-year-old’s to cups horses, including; Two Illicit, Concert Hall, Hypnos, Elate, Rondinella, Hasstobemagic, Hasstobegood, Shenanagins, Hanger and Last Sight.