In the past three months, there have been times when Josh Parr feared his riding career was over, moments when he contemplated a fate even worse.
But the popular jockey has come through the other side and will make his long-awaited return to Sydney racing on Saturday, in time for the first Group One meeting of the season.
Shortly after winning a race at Warwick Farm in May, Parr experienced searing pain in his shoulder.
For weeks, he could barely move his left arm and a diagnosis was proving difficult.
“The pain was extreme, nothing like I have experienced before,” Parr said.
“The loss of strength and loss of movement was quite scary because there was a period there for a couple of weeks where my left arm was so weak, I couldn’t pick up a pen to write my name.
“As you can imagine, so many things crossed my mind. It is natural for people to think the worst, it’s hard not to.”
Parr was eventually diagnosed with brachial neuritis, an uncommon affliction characterised by severe pain and loss of function in some nerves.
He was prescribed a course of heavy medication along with intensive physiotherapy and thankfully for the jockey, his body responded.
He had his first race ride at Newcastle two weeks ago in what he labelled “the big test” and came through it with flying colours.
He took last weekend off to ensure his arm still felt strong and was due to ride at Thursday’s Rowley Mile meeting at Hawkesbury until his mounts were scratched.
But he will be back in action at Randwick with four rides, including aboard one of his favourite horses Quackerjack in the Group One Winx Stakes (1400m).
“Dive straight into the deep end, that’s the way to do it,” Parr said.
“It’s a cracker field. He’s up against the best horses going around at the moment and he’s going to have to produce a very good performance but as far as we can see he’s in good shape.”
Parr also has three rides for trainer Bjorn Baker, highlighted by last-start winner Kiss The Bride who is among the fancied runners in the opening race.