FORMER champion apprentice jockey, Dylan Dunn, is set to return to the saddle this week after being forced to prematurely hang up the boots 18 months ago due to illness and weight concerns.
The 23-year-old has taken some time away to allow his body to recover and was given the all-clear on Wednesday 12 September to resume race-riding by as early as Saturday 15 September.
Dunn will be sticking to riding at 58kg in the “country” and 57kg in “town” which he believes will not only benefit his body but also his ability to ride at his best.
“When I first retired, obviously it wasn’t exactly something that I wanted to do but I felt that I had to do it because of the way my weight was,” Dunn said.
“I just found trying to lose a kilo or two over the course of a week is fine but when you’re constantly going to lose three kilos the day before a race meeting it just isn’t good for your health, your mental state and also your ability to ride.
“I’ve taken some time off to really let my body relax and sort of finish growing too, now that I’m 23.
“I’m going into it this time with a much better frame of mind because I’m actually able to eat, I’m not having to sweat and hopefully I’m going to be able to ride even better because of it. “
Prior to taking a step back from the sport, Dunn had ridden more than 130 winners including the Group Three Easter Cup on Leebaz and the Group Three Breeders Stakes on Tris.
He is now set to return as a fully-fledged senior rider, having completed more than four years of full-time riding, including trackwork and on race day.
“It probably works out to have ridden 4,000 horses every year or more, so you know it better than the back of your hand,” he said.
“As soon as I got on that first horse and was able to have a gallop I felt like I was back home and even doing the trials yesterday I feel as though nothings ever changed.
“I honestly feel like I haven’t even stopped, so I’m pretty confident that when I get back it should be all smooth sailing.”
Dunn has also spent the past month riding full-time work for James Cummings’ Godolphin stables which he “snapped up” as soon as the offer presented itself.
There has also been plenty of support from trainers across Victoria who have offered a lending hand as Dunn starts to make his way back onto the scene.
“There’s been plenty of trainers that said they’ll look after me when I come back and try and support me the best they can, but realistically the thing I’m most impressed about is all the people from day-to-day life that have been fans or friends of family that have shown so much support,” he said.
“That’s probably one of the reasons why I am coming back because I feel that I didn’t get to leave on terms that I wanted to, and I had so many supporters back then that I now want to be able to help get great success with.”
“Just to be able to reach so many people and have so many great responses back to me just really proves that I’m doing the right thing in returning to racing.”