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Racing can always provide a redemption story as apprentice Matthew McGillivray can testify.

McGillivray’s career hit the skids in April when a random drug test taken after a set of jump-outs at Doomben returned positive to methamphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy).

The 23-year-old was suspended for four months but at his third Saturday metropolitan ride back at Doomben he was successful aboard the Robert Heathcote-trained Riva De Lago in the Cardno Handicap (1200m).

“It’s great to be back for sure and the trainers have all been supportive so it’s onwards and upwards from here,” McGillivray said.

During his time out of the saddle, McGillivray worked as a painter to earn a living but admits it was tough being away from the racing industry.

“Not being able to participate in a sport I love was difficult and it wasn’t easy earning a lot less than I would have if I was riding,” he said.

McGillivray is happy with his fitness levels despite spending an extended period on the sidelines.

“The stewards wanted me to do four weeks of trackwork and three lots of jump-outs before I started riding again,” he said.

“I’ve ridden about 30 horses all up and that’s got me really fit and ready to go again.”

Riva De Lago enhanced his reputation as a “fresh” performer when he scored on Saturday.

Heathcote followed a similar program to the one he employed successfully with Riva De Lago when the eight-year-old won the Glasshouse Handicap (1300m) at the Sunshine Coast in May.

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