Tim Clark will be forced to extend his vigorous pre-season training regime after the Australian gave up four rides yesterday, arriving for day one of the season overweight.
Clark has been working hard for the last few weeks with fellow Australian riders Zac Purton and Tye Angland, the trio hiring a personal trainer to whip them into shape with strenuous boxing and cross-training sessions.
"I've trained harder than ever the last two weeks, but it has been tough taking the weight off returning this season."
The 26-year-old, who was fined $5,000 for his indiscretion, vowed to be back to lightweight status within weeks, but still had two rides yesterday, and at least made one of them count - the Richard Gibson-trained Caga Spirit winning for the first time in nearly two years.
"I'd rather focus on the positive of the day, and that is that I got a winner on the first day of the season - last year it took me seven meetings to get on the board," Clark said.
Gibson had a light-hearted jab at Clark post-race. "I hope he doesn't buy any pies or cakes with the winnings."
Caga Spirit is seemingly lucky to still be in Gibson's yard after a season in which he was placed just once in 15 starts. "This was the first time since I began training him that he had a good draw," Gibson said. "We knew from last year that he wanted 1,400m, and that's why we kept him."
Clark rode the now seven-year-old six times last term and said a low draw was of utmost importance for a horse that was tricky to position in a race.
From gate three Clark was able to be close, without pushing a horse that can race too keenly.
"He was consistent last season, but because we kept getting bad draws, that meant he was getting too far back and he is not an easy ride," he said.