Peter Robl had to do it tough to shed the kilos but the opportunity to land his first city winner following a year-long ban was too good to refuse.
Robl got down to 53kg at just his third meeting back to partner the Grahame Begg-trained Dreamworker to a 1-1/2-length victory in the Schweppes Handicap (1550m) at Canterbury on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old jockey returned on Saturday from a 12-month ban incurred for betting on races through the TAB account of his wife.
“I rode at 54-1/2 kilos on Sunday at Canberra comfortably but I was just planning on taking half a kilo a week off,” Robl said.
“Then Grahame (Begg) rang for me to ride this filly and it was too good an offer to refuse, basically.
“I had to do a few hard yards in the past few days.”
Robl said he had spent 40 minutes a day in the sauna over the past three weeks to prepare for his comeback but had to up that even more leading into Wednesday.
“On Monday night I sweated for an hour and yesterday for a couple of hours. I did another 40 minutes this morning and I was right,” he said.
“It’s been hard but it’s been worth it.”
Robl, who got up to 61kg at one point during his time out, had one ride at Canterbury last Saturday when second aboard the Clarry Conners-trained Diamond Start.
He notched his first winner back at Canberra but Wednesday’s success in town was an even bigger milestone.
“It might just be a midweeker at Canterbury but it’s a big milestone for me,” Robl said.
“Like I’ve said previously, the support that I’ve had from all the trainers and owners since I returned has been tremendous and I’m grateful for the support.”
On Saturday, Robl will partner the Matthew Dale-trained Lebrechaun in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
And while he said the 12-month ban was a blow, the positive was that it could have prolonged his career.
“You never want to take 12 months off like that but it will probably be good in the long run,” he said.
“I feel really good and I’m really happy and I want to do it. I’m probably more keen to ride winners in Sydney than when I came here four years ago.”
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