James McDonald set to return at Warwick Farm on May 16
James McDonald returns to riding at Warwick Farm after serving an 18-month ban for betting
Jockey James McDonald riding for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott on his first day back after an 18 month suspension during a trackwork session ahead of day one of The Championships at Royal Randwick. ( Mark Evans/Getty Images)
It has been a long 18 months for New Zealand jockey James McDonald but that will end at Warwick Farm on May 16.
The former Godolphin Stable rider was given a hefty 18-month ban for betting on his own mount on December 5, 2015, which consisted of McDonald placing a $1000 bet to make $4000 on two-year-old star Astern.
One of Australian racing's leading jockeys, McDonald was on a significant retainer with Godolphin and although his time with Godolphin has come to an end, he has good relationships with the likes of Chris Waller, John O'Shea and the Snowden Stables.
McDonald knows it won't be easy to take off where he left and he has always struggled with his weight, but he is keen to build towards the spring season which includes the Melbourne Cup.
"Hopefully I'm allowed the opportunity to get back to where I was 18 months ago... I don't want to be too far off the mark come spring time, I want to be right up on the top jockey's heels," McDonald said.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to that spot and I'll definitely treat it with a bit more respect and a different approach to everything."
McDonald has been keeping the weight off by riding trackwork and at trial meetings. McDonald added that his heaviest weight during his time off was only 62kg.
Over his last 10 starts, McDonald has won 20 and placed in 31. During that time he has won over $4 million and his quality riding skills will be much-needed in Sydney.