After 18 months in Sydney apprenticed to Peter and Paul Snowden, Wagga jockey Nick Heywood has decided on a return home.
Heywood will return from a couple of weeks break at Wagga on Friday where he will ride as a fully-fledged jockey for the first time.
The 22-year-old could have stayed an apprentice for a couple of months but decided to call time on his metropolitan stint due to his weight.
Heywood can only ride 56 kilograms and above, which restricts his opportunities with a two kilogram claim.
Heywood will always appreciate the time he spent with the Snowdens.
“It’s like any job, you hate it and you love it but I learnt a lot by going up there and improved my riding as well,” Heywood said.
“They didn’t have to take me on if they didn’t want but they did and Peter helped me out a lot.
“I couldn’t be anymore grateful than what I am.”
Heywood said it was an easy decision to make.
“It was pretty straight forward,” he said.
“I could have stayed if I wanted to stay but being a heavy rider it wasn’t easy.
“Being a senior, you still have to go and ride trackwork and work hard, but you don’t have to go back in the afternoon. It allows you to relax a bit.”
Heywood will base himself in Wagga for now but that might not be permanent.
“At the moment I’ll stay here for a couple of weeks until I work out where I’m getting the most rides at,” he said.
“I’d like to keep riding at Kembla (Grange) and Newcastle but if I’m not getting the rides then there’s no point. I’m going to ride at Kembla on Saturday and do a bit of travelling up and down.
“You never know, you might get on a nice horse up there.”
While still determined to ride winners, the struggle with weight is very real for Heywood.
“I might go half a year, or a year, then have to call it,” he said.
“The weight is really hard and I’m still young and might want to go travelling.”
Heywood enjoyed success while in Sydney. He rode 70 winners last season and finished third on the Sydney metropolitan apprentice jockey’s premiership, behind Andrew Adkins and Rachel King.
Heywood rode a couple of city doubles on a Saturday, while he dominated one provincial meeting at Newcastle in May last year, winning five of the eight races on the card.
He has four rides at Wagga on Saturday, three of which are for his dad Chris.