Blake Shinn has returned to trackwork this week as the former top rider stares down a come back to the sport he left in disgrace last year.
Shinn, along with Peter Robl, were banned for 12 months after the pair were found to have bet on horse races across a sustained period of time.
The ban couldn’t have come at a worse time for Shinn as he was in career best form and making serious inroads in the jockeys premiership.
Making things even worse was the fact Shinn also fractured his fibula around the same time bringing his whole life crashing to the ground.
Since the ban he’s taken time out form racing altogether and explored other avenues including a six month stint in the real estate sector.
Now he’s back riding though and confident he’s broke free of his gambling addiction and ready to earn back some of the respect that was lost.
“It was a difficult time for myself and my family at the time,” he said.
“Certainly being caught for gambling made me realise there was an issue I had with gambling and made me recognise that I had to face up to it.
“With the help of family and friends and my psychologist…we’ve got through it.”
He was a welcome sight back on the track yesterday morning where he climbed back aboard a race horse for the first time.
“Yesterday was a great thrill and a big step towards moving forward,” he said.
While he’s back in trackwork a return to race riding is still a way off though with that part of the ban still active.
“I’m still a couple of months away from getting back to race riding,” he said.
“It’s a big step towards getting back to the top level where I know I can get to.”
He met with stewards prior to going back to the track and said they are satisfied he’s not a risk of falling back into his addiction.
“They had to be satisfied that I wasn’t going to reoffend and face the problems that placed me where I sat 12 months ago,” he said.
“I’ve put up barriers that are in place now, I’m really confident.
“I just want to focus on the future and the future seems really positive…it’s all about the future now.”
Shinn is cleared to return to racing in late November however his leg injury is still giving him ongoing problems.
“My date is November 26 but I’m probably a month behind that,” he said.
“It seems to be ok now, it’s all about just strengthening the leg up now.
“I need to by physically right as well as mentally, I’m not going to return to racing until I’m sure of that.”