AFTER more than three years on the sideline, former leading Southern District jockey John Kissick is on the verge of his return.
Kissick has applied for his approved rider's licence with Racing NSW and hopes to be back riding in barrier trials as soon as Sunday week at Canberra.
The 28-year-old, a three-time Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) premiership winner, has been sidelined since October 2016 after suffering a fractured spine in a steer-riding accident.
Kissick wants to get as fit as possible at the trials and is aiming to be back race riding by March.
"I'm just going for my approved rider's licence at the moment so I can still manage jockeys," Kissick said.
"Hopefully all goes well with the barrier trials. I want to ride in as many trials as I can get and then be right to go. I'll apply for my jockey's licence and hope to be back at the races by March."
Kissick, who is currently based in Wangaratta, is working for the Mitch Beer stable at Albury.
He is currently riding 10 horses a morning in work and recently rode a couple of jump outs to give him further confidence as he closes in on a return.
Kissick, who weights 62 kilograms, wants to get his weight down and fitness up before returning to race riding.
"I want to be 100 per cent right when I return to have a crack at the premiership again," he said.
"I'm looking forward to it. I'm pretty hungry to make up for lost time."
MURRUMBIDGEE Turf Club (MTC) expect to know more about a replacement for Allan Hull in coming weeks.
Hull will retire from racecalling at Wagga on Australia Day after a spectacular career spanning more than 50 years.
MTC chief executive Steve Keene said the club will hold discussions with Andrew Bensley from Sky Racing soon to work out the process going forward.
"These conversations were going to happen after the spring carnival finished so we should know more in the next few weeks," Keene said.
"There is a couple of options...but we'd love to get a SDRA caller."
Wagga Harness Racing Club (WHRC) also need to find a replacement for Hull.
Hull's last meeting at Riverina Paceway will be January 14.
"We've been in talks with Sky Racing and they said they will advise us in time but it looks as though it will be one of their callers from Sydney," WHRC chief executive Graeme White said.
Mark McNamara, who recently returned from New Zealand, is one option from Sky who is very popular among punters.
WHRC is gearing up for their big Christmas Party meeting on Saturday, December 14, where early indications point to a massive crowd with already 13 Christmas parties booked.
MITCH Beer became just the second Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) trainer to win a Highway Handicap on Saturday.
The well-backed Princess Cordelia produced her best performance yet to runaway with a dominant victory in the $75,000 TAB Highway Class Two Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill, which was split into two divisions.
The only trainer to win a Highway until Saturday was Gundagai's David Blundell, twice, with Itsa Fait Accompli.
Beer plans to target the $150,000 Country Championships qualifier at Albury with Princess Cordelia, who left the stable on Wednesday for a freshen up.
The young Albury trainer has made a big impact in the region since his arrival just over 12 months ago and will unveil a number of well-performed stable newcomers in coming months.
Beer has purchased New Zealand stakes winner Bobby Dazzler, while the group-placed Kiwi gelding Hanger has also joined his stable.
Beer is keen to target next year's Kosciuszko with Hanger.
WAGGA trainer Trevor Sutherland will tackle Saturday week's $500,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m) with Charming Pat.
Sutherland had nominated Charming Pat for a 2YO race at Rosehill on Saturday but chose not to accept in preference of the lucrative Inglis feature at Randwick.
Charming Pat has had the one race start for a second placing at Canberra.
He won a jump out against older horses at Wagga this week in impressive fashion in lead up to Saturday week's feature.
Sutherland also chose not to accept in the Highway Handicap (1800m) with Two Wrongs Dont and will give the promising young stayer another couple of weeks between runs.
ONE of the training performances of the year has been the comeback of Azaryah, who won again at Wagga on Saturday.
Azaryah was off the scene for almost two years before returning to the track for a first-up maiden win over 1400 metres at Gundagai last month.
The five-year-old mare backed up the win with another victory at Wagga on Saturday, winning over 1800 metres at her second start back.
She led all the way and fought strongly to win by just over two lengths.
Trainer Trevor Sutherland thanked the owners for their patience.
"A lot of time went into it and the owners have been great, they've been happy to be patient," Sutherland said.
"I had her in work a long time before she got to the races. She had 16 weeks work, just bringing her back slowly."
The ownership group includes Wagga's Bernie Benson and family.
Azaryah will have her next start at Wagga on Tuesday in the Benchmark 66 Crichton Cup (1800m).
After that, she will be eligible for a Highway run or may even go to the paddock in preparation for a first-up assault on the Country Championships qualifier.
COMEBACK jockey Brodie Loy has made the move to Sydney in a bid to reestablish himself as a city rider.
Loy returned from an 18-month suspension in August and has been quick to register 20 wins since then.
With a desire to become a group one jockey, Loy has moved to Sydney where he hopes to crack it at the top level.
"I'm still prepared to travel anywhere to take rides but I will be based in Sydney and am moving in with Winona Costin until I find somewhere else to rent," Loy told The Border Mail.
"I feel like I'm a lot more mature than when I previously rode in Sydney as an apprentice and mentally a lot stronger to handle the pressure that comes with riding against the best jockeys.
"Looking back, I was probably just too immature to handle the pressure.
"But since I've been back I've been in a good space mentally, am really on top of my weight and now I just need the opportunities to prove myself."
The 23-year-old is serving a careless rising suspension until December 14.
Saturday: Albury (TAB)
Tuesday: Wagga (TAB)
Friday: Wagga (TAB)
Tuesday: Leeton (TAB)
Saturday: Temora (non-TAB)