Luke Nolen is about to take the next step in his return to the riding ranks by joining Peter Moody for trackwork at Caulfield.
Nolen, who rode champion Black Caviar to 22 of her 25 wins, has been sidelined with a back injury since May.
Monday will be a low-key return for Nolen who has recovered from surgery on a ruptured disc between the L4 and L5 vertebrae in his lower back.
“The surgeon removed a bit of bone from each vertebra and removed a bit of excess disc and stitched a dissolvable film around the disc to hold its integrity post surgery,” Nolen told Melbourne radio station RSN.
Nolen has spent the past couple of weeks at his parents farm at Benalla riding a few quiet horses around the paddocks in preparation for his return.
He said he has a few aches and pains from muscles that haven’t been used since May.
Nolen had hoped to make a raceday return at Caulfield on Australia Day but does not think he’ll be back before the end of January.
“I don’t want to let anyone down when I do get back,” Nolen said.
“Australia Day I was looking at, but I’ve had to continually move the goalposts to get the body right.
“I want to ride everywhere to get my eye back in because I’ve missed a lot of racing in the last six months.”
Nolen said his weight ballooned post-surgery but it was slowly coming off.
But importantly his back is strengthening.
“I’ve been doing a bit of swimming and Pilates which has been very helpful, but there’s no substitute for race riding,” he said.
“It’s good to have a stable like Peter Moody behind me and I want to go to those country meetings where Peter and I first started our bond.”