Gunnedah double has Patrick Scorse on road to redemption

Patrick Scorse brought up a winning double at Gunnedah on Saturday. Image: Bradley Photos.

Patrick Scorse put a nine-month suspension for using banned substances behind him at Gunnedah on Saturday when booting home a winning double. 

Initially outed for 12 months, Scorse worked hard to have his sentence reduced, and following a return to trackwork riding in February, he was back race-riding at Coffs Harbour on Monday. 

On Saturday, he trekked nearly four hours from Wyong to Gunnedah, enjoying a red-letter day when winning two races, finishing runner-up in two more, and taking out the jockey’s challenge.

The 25-year-old won his first race in ten months when taking a pick-up ride on the Jeremy Sylvester-trained Ransoming ($7.50) in the 1400m Benchmark 50 Handicap. 

A race later, he made it a winning double, this time triumphing on the Mark Mason-trained Broadbeach Dancer in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap. 

“To go right out to Gunnedah on Saturday, which was a half-TAB meeting, and to have a day like that; it was a flashback to the good times racing used to give me,” Scorse told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.  

“Ransoming was a pick-up ride, and I ended up going to Gunnedah with five good rides and what turned out to be four very, very good chances. 

“I really liked Luke Pepper’s mount, but that didn’t go how we wanted, but the rest of the day made up for that. 

“I had two wins and two seconds and won the jockey’;’s challenge; I was more than ecstatic to be back in the game and riding winners.

“I just can’t explain how good it felt to walk out of the jockey’s room; I sat down next to my car for a bit and rung Dad (John Scorse). 

“I was looking forward to that phone call, and happy to be making it in my first week back felt very good.”

A very talented apprentice based in the South East before his move north, Scorse has been through the ups and downs of racing, suffering a nasty ankle injury in 2020, while in 2021, he was suspended for using a banned substance. 

During his time off, the young man worked hard to get himself right mentally. 

“I wore it; it’s my mistake, and I sought some help during my time off,” Scorse said. 

“It’s not the first time I’ve been sprung, and it has been a bit of a problem in my time. I still see one of the councillors and keep that appointment every week. 

“I can’t do it again; it shouldn’t happen once, let alone twice, and I’ve got another chance, and I need to make it worthwhile.”

Scorse believes he is in the best shape of his life physically, and his weight is right where he wants it. 

“In my time off, I was big at hitting the gym, and I picked up a dumbbell and aimed to fill out a dress shirt for once,” Scorse laughed. 

“The heaviest I got was 58kg, and I was happy that I could get stronger, but when I came back, it only took me two weeks of stopping the weights and getting back to skipping, the treadmill and bike to drop the weight. 

“My weight is very stable, and it’s one less thing that I’ve got to worry about.

“Mentally, it’s good to get out and do a bit of exercise, and that approach has been converting on the scales. 

“With my weight so good, I don’t have to worry about leaving extra time for a sweat and missing an opportunity because I’m too heavy.”

Since recommencing trackwork riding in February, Scorse has taken a different approach to his work as he endeavours to prove himself to owners and trainers. 

“I spring out of bed for work, and I get to the track at 4.15 am,” Scorse said. 

“I’m a bit of a tart at trackwork, riding for everyone and covering every base.

“When I first came back, all I could do was trackwork, and I still rode 12 on Saturday morning before I went to Gunnedah.

“I’ve even noticed, since I started riding again, how much more racing I was watching, and even for a half-TAB on Saturday, I watched a lot of video and did a lot of homework.

“I just noticed a bit more of a passion coming back than what I used to have.”

Scorse did hold some reservations when he was given the green light to return to race riding, as he knew that early results would dictate his fortunes. 

“I was a little bit concerned about coming back because it wasn’t like I was coming back from injury; I was coming back from my own personal wrongdoings,” Scorse said. 

“I had no one to blame but myself, so I knew people would need to trust me again.

“I had to come back, dig in, and start from the bottom, but it didn’t concern me that I was travelling to these meetings because it was about getting my number of rides up and building those connections with trainers.”

While he is back on the winner’s list, the talented hoop isn’t rushing towards any major races and will continue to work on himself and his reputation. 

“It kind of feels like this time around, I don’t have to back down from anything,” Scorse said. 

“I am doing very well, and I don’t think there is a challenge that I wouldn’t take on.

“I don’t have any big goals; I just want to finish the season with some consistency. 

“At the end of the day, I want to be able to go to all the meetings in my area and just get business done, a bit like Jeff Penza.

“He is a machine and goes non-stop, and wherever he goes, he has a big book of rides, and he’s been doing it for years.

“He’s respected, and I just want to have a decent reputation and for people to think of me as reliable and a person who gets the job done.”

Scorse is back at the races on Tuesday, taking one ride at Hawkesbury, where he’ll team up with John Higgins on Little Be Known in the 1100m Maiden Handicap.