IN THE midst of a stellar season, South Australian reinsman Ken Rogers is in a strong position to enjoy the biggest night of his career this weekend.
With nine drives on Saturday evening’s Port Pirie the card, Rogers has numerous solid chances including three Group Twos.
Rogers actually has engagements in the four Southern Cross Finals, with Tiseh Selina among the outsiders in the $50,000 decider for three-year-old fillies.
The balance of Rogers’ drives consists of a pair of Consolations and the favourites in the first two races on the program.
“On paper it appears to be a pretty good night,” Rogers said. “Just got to hope it turns out that way.
“Problem is talking to you about it could put a jinx on it!”
Rogers’ initial feature appearance will be behind the Emma Stewart-trained Perfect Major, which has a strong family connection with the futurity.
Perfect Major is a great grandson of Lifeline which is the dam, grand dam and great grand dam of five Southern Cross champions.
Runner-up in his heat last weekend, Perfect Major is the $5 second elect from barrier five, with Catch A Moment a $1.60 hot shot from the pole.
“His draw could be a bit awkward over 2050 metres, but Perfect Major is a good chance,” Rogers said. “A lot will come down to the start.”
Rogers will then partner Tiseh Selina from the second row for trainer Andrew Gray.
“It will be the first time I have driven her, but she seem to go well in her heat,” Rogers said. “This will be harder again, but with some luck she could surprise a few.”
Rogers and Stewart will combine forces again in both two-year-old Finals.
Second upon debut in his heat, Ona Highway Tohell is the $2.20 favourite from gate five.
The son of Betterthancheddar slots into four with the removal of the emergency.
“His was a really good run in the heats,” Rogers said. “No doubt he will be better for the experience.
“There are some nice types in that race, but the main dangers have also drawn the second row which helps.”
Celebrity Chef will round out the Finals assault when she takes her place from barrier two.
From the same family as Perfect Major, the two-year-old is the second favourite at $3, with her stablemate Treasures the $1.25 chance from the outside of the back row.
“She has been doing a bit tough in her races and still going well,” Rogers said. “This time she has a chance to find the pegs and give them something to chase.”
Born in Victoria, Rogers is a third generation participant having followed his father Greg and grandfather Jack into harness racing.
“I was born in Mildura and moved to South Australia with my family when I was about two,” Rogers recalled.
“My Dad and Pop were interested in horses and one day started training one. They had friends who were trainers who helped them learn the ropes.
“Dad also spent time in America with some stables.”
A regular on the pony trot circuit during his younger days, Rogers eased away from driving during his teens which saw him working as a welder and tinkering with cars, but the pull of harness racing was too strong.
“I did some welding, building cars… just breaking out on my own for a while,” Rogers said. “But harness racing is a disease you can’t shake.
“When I was about 22 I started to get serious and Peter Lawrence, who has been a big influence, got me a job with Toby Ryan.”
Quickly establishing himself among the best concession drivers in the state, Rogers’ career hit a road block after he fell foul of the stewards.
After serving 15 months on the sidelines, Rogers was back in the cart and wasted no time repositioning himself among South Australia’s best drivers.
“I got a suspension and a disqualification for being over the threshold for substances,” Rogers said. “It was a bizarre way it happened.
“My test sat in the lab for 30 days during which time they dropped the threshold and I was over the new limit but under the limit at the time of the testing.
“It is what it is, I had to accept it and move on.
“I was lucky when I came back to get some from support from people like Jonathon Kingston-Mayne, Joe Carbone and Peter Sergi.
“It’s not something I would want to do again, but I don’t regret it as our achievements and mistakes make us who we are today.”
Enjoying a purple patch this season, Rogers is on target for a personal best tally.
“I’ve been having a good run and it would be nice if that continued for a while, especially Saturday night,” Rogers said.
“I’ve also been given a lot of opportunities from so many trainers and owners whom I wouldn’t be doing what I am without.”