POPULAR Warrnambool jumps jockey Braidon Small scored the most significant victory of his career when he guided Instigator home in the $35,000 Bourke Hurdle at Pakenham on Sunday.
The win was Small's first since he suffered bleeding on the brain after a race fall at Pakenham in 2019. The 29-year-old came back to the winners' stall to be greeted by his emotional wife Amy.
"I had forgotten what it was like to ride a winner," Small told The Standard.
"The win has given me a huge buzz. I've had to battle a lot of different issues over the last two years but I've been lucky to have had great support from Amy and our children Erika and Robbie plus our family and friends.
"Amy and the kids were there to see the win which was wonderful. It's been a long haul.
"It's fair to say my career was at the crossroads on a few occasions over the couple of years.
"It's great to get the monkey off my back as far as riding a winner before the Warrnambool May Carnival."
The son of Cyril, who rode Vo Rogue to 22 of his 26 wins, has been working in the gym five days a week in attempt to get ready for this jumps season.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "I've been working really hard in the gym, riding track work and I've got a great diet.
"I was about 85 kilograms at one stage but I've lost the weight. I'm looking forward to the carnival.
"I'll be putting up my hand to ride Instigator in the Galleywood. I've been lucky I've had wonderful support from local trainers like Aaron Purcell, Simon Ryan and Quinton Scott."
Instigator has won two of his four jumps races.
Meanwhile, Wentwood hung on to defeat Home By Midnight and Kyshaka in Sunday's $70,000 Terang Cup.
Trained by Maddi Raymond, Wentwood will now be set for the $250,000 Warrnambool Cup on May 6.
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