John Kissick makes winning return at Holbrook

John Kissick, pictured here at Cowra last year, was back in the saddle on Saturday, riding a winner at Holbrook. Photo: Racing Photography.

John Kissick has no doubt had his fair share of bad luck, with a broken back keeping him out of the saddle for three years before making a triumphant return to racing in 2020. 

Then in 2021, Kissick was preparing for a bumper Wagga Gold Cup carnival before he suffered a badly broken leg.

Kissick was behind the barriers aboard Best Not Say when he was stuck by a horse kicking out, and he ended up in Wagga Base Hospital with a break in four places.

“I haven’t had a lot of luck,” Kissick said. 

“Riding wise, the back injury was my most time out of racing, but I’ve broken my pelvis, wrist, collarbone, finger and leg.

“Hopefully it has all passed now and I’m all good and get a chance to ride for a while.” 

Following his injury, which happened back in May of last year, the 30-year-old attempted a return to riding in November, but he was forced to spend more time out of the saddle. 

“I was out for 10 months but to be honest, I thought it was only going to be a three-month injury,” Kissick said. 

“It was six months until I was actually healed, and I went to the trials on November, and I probably came back a bit earlier and it blew up again.

“I was fine to walk on it, but I was only riding for three weeks and pushed it too early, but I’ve given it enough time now and I’ve come good.” 

On Saturday, Kissick returned to racing at Holbrook, and while it was a long way from the glitz and glam of the Wagga Gold Cup carnival, the three-time Southern Districts jockey of the year left as a winner after helping the Kevin Byrne-trained Force Awakens to victory in the 1400m Benchmark 45 Handicap.

“I was actually a little bit nervous going to the races,” Kissick said. 

“I felt fine and have ridden a lot of work the last few months and done a lot of trials down in Victoria.

“It was good to win; I did the form, and I knew he had been racing over 1000m and I knew he would have a bit of early pace.

“Over the 1400m, he took up the lead and gave me a good kick and won well. He was going better than I was and ran through the line – I was reaching for the oxygen tank.”

Kissick was just happy to be back riding, and he never expected to make a winning return at Holbrook.

“I never went there expecting to win. I didn’t know what to expect and just wanted to get through the day,” Kissick said.

“I just love country racing and it felt good to have a few rides, get the competitive juices flowing and get back out there.”

Kissick, who is based in Wangaratta after moving further down south, said he will still be a familiar face in the Southern Districts.

“I ride work for James Fraser, Craig Weeding and Dan McCarthy in Wangaratta and I’m keeping busy,” Kissick said. 

“I will be riding at Hillston on Saturday and Gundagai on Sunday, but I’ll just take a few rides and ease into it and hopefully get back going into the full swing of things by the Wagga Cup carnival.”

Readers wanting to check out full results at Holbrook can click here