Canterbury jockey Samantha Wynne can't wait to make her return to riding at Ashburton on Wednesday.
COVID-19 restrictions have meant Wynne has been ineligible to ride to this point but relaxed Government vaccine mandates have led to the Irish rider taking her first booking since New Zealand Cup week at Riccarton last November.
She was initially sidelined through suspension resulting from whip-rule breaches and one of the immediate priorities is toeing the line with officialdom.
"I just want to come back and ride as many winners as I can and keep out of trouble," Wynne said.
"I just want to enjoy it. I'm grateful to be back and I want to make the most of it and be happy in my work."
Wynne has taken just one ride at Ashburton, on the John and Karen Parsons-trained Hey Mickey in the Premier Equine Vets 2200.
"Something to blow the cobwebs off. I wasn't going to but John and Karen asked me to ride him so I said 'of course'. It will help me get my eye in for Saturday when I'll take three or four," Wynne said.
"I haven't ridden since Cup week, when I was suspended for six weeks for whip offences. I just wanted to start back slowly. I had a few problems with the whip rule when I came back from my last holiday.
"I took a full book my first day back after having four months off and it wasn't good for me. I made a lot of mistakes so I'm going to start off slowly this time and hopefully play by the rules."
Wynne gave two-win Zed six-year-old gelding Hey Mickey an upset chance.
"It's not an overly strong field. He had a freshen up after his last race so he might be a little vulnerable over the 2200m but there's no doubt he'll give me a nice ride and be hitting the line all going well," she said.
Wynne said she had been riding plenty of on-farm trackwork to hone her fitness ahead of her return.
"I've been riding 12 horses a morning but it's not as strenuous as riding at the track because the horses at home seem to be a bit more relaxed," she said.
"I've lost a bit of muscle but my weight is good and I'm fit and ready to go. I'll definitely improve with the run but the best thing to help my fitness now is race-riding itself."
Wynne conceded the break from riding hadn't been easy but the time away had given her ample time to reflect on what was important and she was returning a more enlightened person.
"I haven't been vaccinated for a couple of personal reasons. It was definitely a challenging time. I learned a fair bit more about myself and I'm definitely better for the break," Wynne said.
"I've been keeping pretty busy, riding work for John and Karen Parsons on the farm and for Michael and Matthew Pitman on their farm and I've got a new role as a sales rep for Equine Products NZ, which is Anna Furlong's business.
"I was allowed back at the track last week which was great. I've been helping Shane Laming with a couple in training too and that's given me a bit of joy too. It's been a pretty hard time. It wasn't an easy decision but I'm glad to be back."
Among Wynne's rides at Riccarton on Saturday are the Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained Whale Song in the Listed Christchurch Casino Easter Cup (1600m) and the Peter Didham-trained Mazzini in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1600m).
"Mazzini won nicely last time and she'll be a nice ride at the mile, though her main aim is the 2000m race (Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Warstep Stakes at Riccarton on April 23). But if she could pick up the mile as well, we'd be laughing.
"Michael Pitman asked me what I'd like to ride for him on Saturday and I said 'two winners please'. I'm happy to be on Whale Song."