It was the question on most racing fan’s lips, where was Aaron Bullock?
Bullock, who was well ahead on the NSW jockey’s premiership with 97 wins at the beginning of this year, seemingly went missing and had not been seen at the races since winning aboard Asudem at Wyong, way back on March 10
After battling weight issues and finding his groove, the Tumut product returned at Muswellbrook on Friday and was soon enough back in the winner’s circle, booting home War Cat to victory in the 1280m Class One.
“It was a good feeling, I am one of the most competitive blokes you would meet and there is nothing better than winning,” Bullock said.
“To win today, after some time off; that feeling was terrific.”
The 29-year-old admitted it had been a tough slog since last riding competitively in March and suggested it was a matter of finding the right preparation, after battling issues with his weight.
“Getting back into that groove is the hardest thing, training and preparation is so important and I was just missing that groove and that dedication,” Bullock said.
“I needed to find that discipline and it was a matter of finding that motivation again, which I have now.”
Bullock joked that it wasn’t the first time he had battled with weight issues and said it was likely to trouble him again as his riding career progressed.
“It has happened before and it will probably happen again,” Bullock laughed.
“I am older now and I am learning how to manage those things and I need to be 100% focused on riding, dieting and training.”
The Singleton based hoop even felt the wrath of the Racing NSW stewards due to his weight issues, being fined and suspended for accepting rides when overweight.
“My body wasn’t ready and the preparation wasn’t done. I was missing rides and got myself in trouble and they rubbed me out a couple of times but it was a lesson learned,” Bullock said.
“Don’t take rides when your not ready. It is as simple as that.”
Bullock said his troubles started at Christmas, after he was down and out with illness, which only led to more issues with training and preparation.
“I got crook over Christmas and I said to myself I was having a break, and they gave me a fine for not taking rides and when it happened again, they gave me six weeks off and I really struggled to keep motivated at that point,” Bullock said.
“The time off was good though, it gave me time to sort myself out and get back to where I needed to be.”
Despite not competing in races for nearly four months, Bullock didn’t stop working with Kris Lees, riding in trials and doing track work for NSW’s leading country trainer.
“I don’t miss a day, I am riding every day, doing morning work, trials and other things,” Bullock said.
“I probably could’ve been riding earlier but I was suspended and needed to do my time.”
Bullock won’t rush things with his weight either, and said that ongoing racing and working with Lees will help him get back to where he wants to be.
“I am 59kg now and I will stay at that weight for a while, I will come down gradually; it might take me a while to get back to 57gk or 58kg but the slower, the better,” Bullock said.
The popular hoop said that he never doubted returning to racing, suggesting he has plenty of time left riding and just loved the racing game.
“I never doubted myself and never thought about not riding again, I am only 29 and have plenty of years left in me,” Bullock said.
“I just like to be going to the races every day and doing the best I can. If I can go to the races and give my horses the best chance possible, I will be happy.”