Valenti back from wilderness on familiar Albany turf

Taj StubberAlbany Advertiser
Jockey Yannick Valenti will return to race riding at Albany on Friday for the first time in five years.
Camera IconJockey Yannick Valenti will return to race riding at Albany on Friday for the first time in five years. Credit: Laurie Benson

After more than five years in the wilderness, jockey Yannick Valenti will make his return to race riding at Albany’s Percy Spencer Racecourse tomorrow.

Valenti last rode in Albany in January 2015 before a three-year drug ban for returning a positive test left him on the sidelines for several years.

He took a further two years off after serving his ban to improve his physical and mental health, but has rediscovered a passion for riding.

Valenti rode four races at Kojonup’s picnic races earlier this year but his official return to proper race riding begins tomorrow.

The 27-year-old was confident he had made the correct changes to return to professional riding.

“I travelled Australia for two years to help myself grow up and to give me time to get my physical and mental fitness up,” he said.

“I had to get away from it all and better myself and I feel I have successively achieved that.

“I worked at the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace stable for three months and that’s when I got my hunger back to start riding.

“That was the last straw, I was champing at the bit to get back in the saddle.

“I rang Darryn Pateman up, where my career started, and said I want to start riding again.”

Valenti will have just one ride on the seven-race card tomorrow aboard Raymondo in the Wellington & Reeves Handicap (1100m).

Raymondo is the topweight and will jump from barrier eight.

“My main goal was just getting back to riding, my one ride tomorrow is a lot to do with fitness,” he said.

“It’s a starting point, I’m fit as ever and keen as ever.

“I rode a lot of winners down there for Paul Hunter, I won the leading country apprentice (title)when I was based in Albany so I know the track well.

“I’m as hungry as ever and I’m not just saying that, I’m confident I can get back to leading rider ranks.”

Albany has a Skyracing.TV Provincial Championship Series Heat (1232m) on the program, headlined by Steve Wolfe duo Go Crying and Round The Point while Lickety Split from the Roy Rogers stable will be looking for back-to-back wins.

Highly rated three-year-old Mood Goddess will face the biggest test of her short career when the filly contests the $250,000 Group 3 City of Belmont WA Oaks (2400m) on Saturday at Ascot.

Mood Goddess will be ridden by Shaun McGruddy and yesterday was at $8 on TABtouch.

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