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David Rodger Jnr wins the race named after his late father

By Duane Ranger

David Rodger Jnr didn't know whether to laugh or cry shortly after race seven at Albion Park last Friday night.

The 43-year-old Tarampa horseman had just trained 10-year-old gelding, Warner, to win the Vale Dave Rodger Pace.

Eight days earlier, Rodger’s father, Davey Rodger Snr, succumbed to a lengthy liver illness, passing away in Ipswich Hospital aged 78.

“I looked at my mates, Ronny Sallis and Graham Dwyer in the stables just after he won, and I didn’t know whether to celebrate or break down - I’m sure Dad was looking down on me,” Rodger said.

“He not only taught me everything about horses, but he taught me everything about life as well.

“He was not only my father, but he was my best mate; the man I looked up to the most - he inspired me.”

Rodger said he was also inspired by Warner, who he thought was a place chance at best.

Instead, the son of Art Major sat back third last at the 400 metre mark, before swooping up wide to win the 1,660m mobile by half a neck, paying $33 for the win.

Warner stopped the clock in 1:59.9 (mile rate 1:56.3), with sectionals of 27.7, 31, 28.4, and  29.4.

It was his 19th win in 211 starts, placing a further 36 times and banking $115,000 since making his debut at Bathurst in February 2012.

Albion Park

VALE DAVE RODGER PACE 1660m

Rodger Jnr has owned Warner since October 2018, when he bought him off his mate, Lachie Manzelmann.

He was bred by Trevor Jones and was brilliantly driven on Friday by rising star Zac Chappenden.

“Zac’s a good wee driver, and he pulled the trigger at the right time,” Rodger said.

“I’m sure Dad was watching down on us because I didn’t expect him to win, he’s been working well but it was the drive that got him home.

“I remember Zac asking me for a drive on one of my horses when he was first starting out, he needed points and I’ve stuck with him since.

“He’s the current Queensland Junior champion, and is a real talent in the sulky.”

Rodger has now trained three winners this season, and had a long way to go to catch upon the several hundred his father trained from 1969.

“Mum (Lyn) was telling me the other day that was the year Dad started training, and his first horse Peerless Princess was probably his best - he won 29 races,” Rodger said.

“Dad had a milk run and a welding business for 11 years before he had a crack at training, he actually got into horses through a mate in a pub - Melba’s Girl was another good one.

“She was probably the best I’ve worked with, I did a lot with that Great Chase mare even though she was in Dad’s name.

“She raced from 1991 to 1998 and won 32 races, I was in my early teens to my early 20s when she was racing - both she and Dad taught me a lot.”

He said his father actually rode track work for Merv Johnson but got too big.

“He always loved horses and I grew up around them, he was also known around these parts as a bit of an Ipswich Showgrounds stalwart,” he said.

“Dad served on the Showgrounds committee for more than half a century and he loved the rural life, we grew up in Amberley and we came here about 10 years ago.”

Rodger works a team of eight, including four racehorses and four young ones, he said Warner was currently the best of them.

Mr Rodger Snr is survived by his wife Lyn, son David, daughter Sally, and his only grandchild Holly.

His Service was held at the Ipswich Showgrounds before he was buried at the Warrill Park Lawn Cemetery.