MATHEW Cahill’s long wait to return to race riding has entered its final month, with the Cowra-based jockey counting down the days until he is allowed back on a racetrack.
Cahill was disqualified for 12 months in September 2012 after stewards found him guilty of failing to give heavily-supported favourite Astronomer every chance of winning at Goulburn in June of the same year.
He rode on a stay of proceedings while various appeals were heard before eventually starting his disqualification in April last year.
Until last week the 46-year-old hadn’t been allowed to set foot on a racecourse anywhere in the world and he admits he has only started taking an interest in racing over the past month or two.
He can return to race riding on April 16.
“For a while there I got as far away from it all as possible. I went on a trip around Australia, saw a lot of places I’d never seen before, and hardly watched a race,” Cahill said.
“The past six or eight weeks I suppose I’ve started watching a few races and I started back riding trackwork last week. I watched the Wellington Boot on Sunday and was really happy for (winning trainer) Neil Osborne.
“Neil has been in the game a long time so it was good to see him get success in a big race and seeing that has kind of put the fire back in my belly.
“I’m looking forward to coming back. The longest I’ve had off before now has probably been six weeks so 11 months has been tough.”
While the time away from the only career he has known hasn’t been easy for Cahill, he admits he feels refreshed as he has been able to give his body a rest.
And he hopes the break will prolong his career down the track.
“Probably the best thing I can take out of the whole situation is that I’ve been able to really look after my body. I haven’t had to worry about wasting or sweating and I think that will help me get a few more years out of it,” he said.
“Racing is almost 24/7 these days and there’s not much of a chance for a break, and while the circumstances weren’t ideal, I’ve made the most of it and feel fresh now.”
That freshness may be the positive aspect of the disqualification but such a charge always brings with it some negativity.
And Cahill knows he will have to work hard in order to gain some trust back within the industry.
“This game is full of highs and lows and this has been a low for sure,” he said.
“I don’t know whether people will want to put me on their horses or not when I come back, that’s their choice, but I’ll be doing my best to show people what I’m all about.
“Because I won’t have ridden for 12 months it’s going to take me a while to get fully fit, so even though I can ride on April 16 I don’t know whether I’ll be back then or not.
“Nothing beats race riding and I want to know I’m in good shape when I do get back in the saddle, but even then it will probably take me a bit to get fully into the swing of things.
“The challenge for me will be showing people that I’m back to ride winners and hopefully that support will be there but I can’t do anything about that. I just have to work hard.”