Back on track

BALLINA jockey Joshua Jones sounds like he is waking from a four-month nightmare.

Talking from the Anthony Cummings stable in Sydney yesterday, his croaky voice had a hint of relief but rang heavy with a serious, solemn tone as he spoke of returning to racing at Newcastle this weekend.

Jones's careless riding suspension over the race fall that killed his mate and fellow jockey, Daniel Baker, at Grafton on December 2 last year will expire on Thursday.

Jones is 17-years-old

"It (Daniel's death) is still there in my mind," he said.

"I'm just doing my best to try and move forward, but it's very upsetting when I think about it.

"I think I could've done this, or I could've done that, and it wouldn't have happened.

"I definitely feel a lot of sorrow about it."

Contrary to a Sydney newspaper report at the time that suggested Jones felt no remorse over the incident, the Northern Rivers' champion hoop was on the verge of quitting the sport.

"I talked about wanting to get back to riding because that was the only thing I could think of to help myself get over it," he said.

"I was just thinking where have I got to go and what have I got to do to get over it.

"I was thinking about giving up, but my friends down here got me through it.

"I have had a lot of support from all my friends."

Jones had nine previous suspensions in his 18-month career, and was serving a one-month ban for a careless riding charge at Wyong when the steward's inquiry into Baker's death reconvened in January.

His master, Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, lodged an appeal disputing that Jones was solely responsible for causing the fall, but withdrew it because of the further anguish it caused.

Jones remained on loan to the Cummings stable and passed his suspension riding morning track work, barrier trials and performing general duties.

On the stewards' recommendations, Jones has had riding skills tuition from former great jockey Ron Quinton, which included several sessions on a mechanical horse.

Jones has ridden over 100 winners in his short career and Cummings, a successful Sydney trainer, has already declared Jones has the talent to make it in the big time.

But on the verge of his return, Jones needs to close his darkest chapter if he is to be a champion in the saddle again.

"If I'm going to make it, I've got to try not to think about it and move forward," he said.


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