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Jockey Mark Zahra says he will benefit from his race riding return at Sandown following a long suspension.

Zahra was suspended for 25 meetings on a careless riding charge during The Championships at Randwick.

Riding for the first time since April 22, Zahra guided Cedar Grande to victory in Wednesday’s Ladbrokes Back Yourself Handicap, the final ride of four mounts for the afternoon.

Zahra expects his fitness to improve for his next meeting at Flemington on Saturday.

“I’ve had a couple of close ones and pulled up a bit big after a few of the races so I think I’ll be a lot better on Saturday,” Zahra said.

Zahra spent his time off travelling to America and Mexico along with time in Hong Kong and Perth, switching his mind to racing mid-May in a bid to keep his weight in check.

“If I sit at home on the couch I go stir-crazy, so I’ve got to plan things to do, keep my mind active,” he said.

“I’ll just take heavy rides going forward for the majority of the winter and get it down for the better horses in the spring.”

Racing Victoria stewards issued Zahra with a severe reprimand after Cedar Grande rolled out on the point of the turn into the line of Kansas City forcing Andrew Mallyon to steady his mount.

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