Former leading Southern District jockey John Kissick is not convinced he will ever return to race riding.
Kissick has been on the sidelines since October 2016 when a steer-riding accident sent his promising career into freefall.
Kissick has been undergoing physiotherapy since the start of the year after he had screws and a rod removed from his spine last December.
The 28-year-old believes the next three months will determine if he can return to the jockey’s ranks.
"I’m doing a heap of physio but it’s just taking a hell of a lot longer than I expected,” Kissick said.
“I’m not totally convinced I will return. I will give it a bit more time and if I am going to return it won’t be until the end of the year.
“I’m doing a heap of physio to build my core. I’ve had a few issues with my upper back but I’ll give it a bit more time and see how I go.”
Kissick has taken the first step in his return to racing. He joined the Scott Spackman team seven weeks ago and is also working at Wayne Carroll’s stables.
Kissick has also been back on a horse for the first time since the accident. He rode his girlfriend Ellie’s horse around the round yard for a week back in May.
“I was in a lot of pain after I rode the horse so I’ve given it a rest,” he said.
“The physio said I’ve got to strengthen my back a lot more.”
After being given the all clear by the surgeon, Kissick originally hoped to be back racing by July.
He now hopes with three more months of physiotherapy under his belt that he can be back riding trackwork in October.
Kissick is desperate to return to the saddle.
“I'm definitely keen. I’m really, really keen. I definitely want to be back,” he said.
“Seeing Nick (Heywood) and Joshy (Richards), two good mates of mine, going for it in the premiership is good to see but it only makes me hungry to get back.
“I desperately want to come back but I’ve got to be realistic as well."
Kissick won three Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) premierships by the age of 25.
He won the 2011-12 title as an apprentice before going to Sydney to spend a season with Chris Waller.
Kissick shared the SDRA title with Simon Miller and Nick Souquet in his first season back, before winning it outright in 2015-16.
Then just a couple of months later, Kissick broke his back when riding a steer at Braidwood.