SOME 1306 days since his last race ride, John Kissick will make his return to the track at Murrrumbidgee Turf Club on Thursday.
Kissick's comeback from a broken back will be complete when he is legged aboard Yulong Power in the first race on Young Cup day at Wagga's Riverside track.
The successful riding career of Kissick came to a crashing halt in October 2016 when he fractured his T-12 vertebrae in a steer-riding accident at Braidwood.
What was initially expected to be 12 months on the sidelines, turned out to be more than three and a half years.
But Kissick is glad that the road to recovery, which has sent him to hell and back, is now over.
"It's awesome. It's been a bloody long road, with not only clearances but body wise, getting everything strengthened and all that sort of stuff," Kissick said.
"It's been a long, long time but it's good to be back. I'm a little bit nervous to be honest but I think it will go away once I'm on the horse."
Kissick revealed the accident, on a private property, sent him to rock bottom physically, mentally and financially.
"Massively. I moved to Sydney to my Nans to recuperate there and when you go from doing work every day to absolutely nothing, it's really hard," he said.
"You're not allowed to do anything. No income, I lost all my money, I got my car taken away, just absolutely everything.
"I just had to start again and it is a mental thing, but it's also a learning curve. My mate said you can take the positives out of it, or you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself.
"So I got back into managing and went from there. But mentally it's hard when you go from doing something you love and then you lose it. And you lose it all in one day."
Kissick admitted there was a time during his recovery that he did not think he would make it back into the saddle.
"Probably the first year with all the pain I had in my back, after doing it, I thought it would be highly unlikely that I would be back," he said.
"But once I got the rods out and started physio and stuff, it eventually come good. Thankfully my body has responded to it and I'm back."
Kissick paid tribute to his partner Ellie, who he described as his 'rock' throughout his time on the sidelines.
He plans to ride at 57 kilograms for the first month back, then gradually decrease his riding weight until the point he reaches 54kg.
Kissick will also return hungry and more dedicated than ever before as he strives to return to the top of the Southern District Racing Association (SDRA).
"I want to work harder than I've ever worked before," he said.
"I've got some goals. I want to win another SDRA premiership, that's my main goal, and I just want to ride as many winners for as many people as I can.
"I really want to work hard. When you're out, you realise you could have worked a little bit harder before, so I think I've been doing that. I've been going to Canberra every Wednesday and riding jump outs and trials. I just want to be back where I was before, that's all, so that's my aim."
Kissick planned on making a low-key return at the meeting, which has been transferred from Young to Wagga due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that was thrown out in the window when his manager's phone rang hot and he has ended up with five rides.
"I probably wanted to ease into it but I kept getting offers," he said.
"I've been riding heaps of work for months and months so I should be around the mark with fitness."