James Rogers finds home away from home in Gilgandra

James Rogers won on the Kieren Hazelton-trained Beg Me at Coonabarabran last month. Image: Racing Photography.

James Rogers is enjoying a second wind in Australia, with the talented Englishman riding in good form following a move to Gilgandra. 

The 35-year-old, born and bred in Warrington, has been in Australia for the best part of nine years, and he first made a name for himself with Brett Thompson in Gulgong. 

While injuries have sometimes cruelled his momentum, Rogers has grown in confidence since joining the Kieren Hazelton team.

Most recently, he’s won on the likes of Dao Sun at Gilgandra and Beg Me at Coonamble and Merriwa, and he believes a change of scenery has done him the world of good. 

“My first job in Australia was with Brett Thompson, and I rode for him for quite a long time; it was on and off for nearly five years,” Rogers told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“Brett was good to me; I got a few winners for him, and he showed me the ropes. Without him, I wouldn’t have got my jockey’s licence. 

“Then, I was riding a bit for Keiren and driving from Gulgong to do work for him one or twice a week, and it was Brett that said it would be a good opportunity to work for him full-time, and that’s what happened. 

“It’s good with Kieren because he knows I’m experienced; I’ve been in the racing game since I was 12, galloping and working horses, so he appreciates my feedback, and we make a good team.”

Rogers, who booted home just shy of 50 winners in England before moving to Australia, has ridden the industry’s ebbs and flows, but two lengthy stints on the sideline have halted his momentum. 

“I just hit a brick wall in England and thought I would come to Australia to give it a go,” Rogers said. 

“Before I came here, I was breezing two-year-olds in America for six months, and when I got here, I worked for Chris Waller for six months and did trackwork there. 

“I was going to go back to race riding and got the urge to come out to the bush, and that’s how I ended up with Brett. 

“I actually got on a real good run when I first started in 2016, but I had a bad fall and broke my shoulder, which put me out for a year,” Rogers said.

“That needed two operations, and then I came back and broke my wrist and was out for another eight months. 

“In total, I was out for nearly a year-and-a-half, and it was a wasted opportunity.” 

Despite these setbacks, Rogers is keeping positive and is thrilled to have the Hazelton stable supporting him.

“With Kieren behind me, it’s been good,” Rogers said.

“I know I can’t ride everything in the stable; that’s not how it works, but I know if I keep riding winners and ticking away, the opportunities will come.

“I was able to get on Dao Sun, one of the best horses Kieren has there, and it was really good to get on the horse and win for those owners.”

Beg Me is another galloper racing well, winning two of his past three starts.

The six-year-old was meant to race at Binnaway on Saturday before the meeting was abandoned, and Rogers is a fan of the Spill The Beans gelding. 

“He’s the kind of horse that likes tricky, stiff tracks,” he said. 

“He was a bit of a surprise for me at Coona, as he wasn’t showing much before that.

“Then he ran at Orange and went no good, but Kieren took him to Merriwa, and over the last 400m, it was a really steep hill, and he got up it and ran well.”

With a few wins under his belt and some support from Hazelton and his owners, Rogers is looking forward to the next chapter in his career, and he only hopes to deliver more winners. 

“I just want to try and get as many opportunities as possible and build up my connections,” Rogers said. 

“At the end of the day, I want to keep riding winners for Kieren; he’s been good to me and puts me on, and I see how hard he works, so that would be the main goal for the moment. 

“In the long term, in the rollercoaster that is racing, it would be nice to consistently ride 30 to 40 winners in the next couple of seasons.”

To book James Rogers for rides, trainers can call Tom Ackerman on 0452 506 964.