It may have been just a lowly maiden win at a low key Taranaki Thoroughbred Racing fixture, but it was clearly a special moment in the colourful career of champion jockey Shane Dye.
Success on the Peter and Phillip Vela-owned galloper Goyescas at New Plymouth yesterday marked Dye's return to the winner's circle after a layoff of more than 2-1/2 years.
Dye, 46, never actually retired. He just walked away from the industry he had been a headline grabber in since the 1980s.
After dismounting Goyescas to applause and shouts of ''good on ya Shane'', the rider of 93 group one winners said he was just enjoying being back race riding.
''I love it. Last time I was riding I was in Mauritius and I won the premiership there one year and then the next year I just lost my desire. I'd had had enough and I stopped.It's as simple as that.''
Dye said it was ''nice'' to break his duck at what was his eighth ride back.
''It's taken time, Goyescas was my first ride back and she was going to be my first winner, but she absolutely lost it before the start at Matamata [November 9] and sweated up really badly and dropped me before the start, otherwise I think she would have won.''
Dye's lack of race fitness showed too - he was blowing almost as much as his mount after returning to the winner's enclosure.
''Once I've had 30 or 40 rides I'll get my fitness back. Throughout a race, I know what's happening and what's going on and it's just a matter of getting my rhythm right when riding a finish.
''Like anything it takes time. I think things are coming together good.''
Dye said it was his decision alone to make a comeback to riding - a decision that surprised many.
He has shed 10kg and yesterday could comfortably ride 55kg.
Dye had a tip for punters after Goyescas' first win. He said the Jason Bridgman-trained four-year-old would win a few more races.
''I wouldn't like to see her going too far just yet, because she's overracing a bit, so you wouldn't want to go past a mile at this stage.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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