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Jockey Mark Zahra is set to return to the saddle on the first of January and the Victorian hoop believes the new year will be a new start after being suspended for four months after the infamous airbnb scandal that saw a handful of jockey’s suspended from action.

Mark Zahra set to return to the saddle

Zahra could have returned to the saddle earlier in December after completing the suspension that saw him ruled out of the whole of Spring but decided January 1st would be the best time to make his way back onto the track.

“I thought let's just aim for New Year’s Day with a fresh start in a new year and kick off slowly,” he said.

Out of the 5 suspended riders only 3 so far have made a return to riding with Zahra claiming he wanted to make a more calculated return to racing action.

Zahra has a number of runners to partner with on New Years Day however what is most noticeable is that his lowest weight ride is 59.5kg aboard Yulong January in the Chester Manifold Stakes.

“The fitness is all right but after having so much time off, I’m still just above the 60 (kg) mark,” Zahra said.

“I don’t want to rush back into it too much. I’ve asked Reece (Murphy) my manager to look for horses around the 60kg mark early.”

While Jamie Kah and Ethan Brown have continued to ride trackwork during there suspensions Zahra decided to spend more time with his new family. 

“I thought if I stayed around Melbourne riding work, it would do my head in watching all the races and that kind of thing,” Zahra said.

“I just headed to Byron Bay as soon as I could, and I’ve got a new little daughter so the three of us went up there.

“I just watched the big races on the weekend but other than that, I didn’t pay much interest.

“I just had family time enjoying my little daughter and ate, drank and slept, which you don’t really get to do as a jockey.

“It was good to be normal for a bit.”

Zahra decided to return to trackwork when he returned to Melbourne after spending a month in Los Angeles in the latter stages of his suspension.

TAB rated Zahra a $6.50 chance of winning on Bella Tiara in his first ride back in the Fields Of Omagh Plate (1400m).

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