IT has been 1306 days since jockey John Kissick last rode in a race.
But the wait is finally over for Kissick who is set to make his long-awaited comeback to the saddle at Wagga tomorrow.
Kissick has been on the sidelines since October 2016 when he fractured his T-12 vertebrae after being thrown from a steer and landing awkwardly.
After years of rehabilitation, the 29-year-old was approved by Racing NSW last month to regain his jockey licence.
Kissick said he had mixed feelings ahead of his first ride in more than three-and-a-half years.
"The most overwhelming emotion is relief after being sidelined for so long," Kissick said.
"I'm also a bit nervous at the moment but I think the nerves will disappear once I get to Wagga and get aboard a horse, I'll be fine.
"I can't wait to get out there again and start competing against the other jockeys.
"I've done a stack of trials and feel my fitness is pretty good.
"So I feel that I'm more than ready to ride in races again and it will be interesting to see how I go."
Kissick revealed he had been through his fair share of dark moments since his accident and came close on several occasions to quitting the sport he loves.
"The first year was the toughest and quite a few times I was ready to throw in the towel," he said.
"But mid-way through 2018 I made up my mind I wanted to get back riding and was determined to make that happen.
"I never really lost the fire in the belly to do it but it has been a hard road back.
"Without an income, I lost everything I owned and was even homeless for a little while.
"But it's not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up that counts and hopefully all that is behind me now."
Before fracturing his vertebrae Kissick was firmly entrenched among the top echelon of jockeys in the district and had won the SDRA jockey premiership on three occasions.
Kissick said despite the seriousness of his injury, his passion to remain a jockey never waivered.
"I just love it that much and I'm probably lucky in a way to be back riding considering the serious nature of my injury," he said.
"I know one thing is certain, I won't be putting my career in jeopardy again by doing something stupid like riding a steer."
Kissick said his comeback wouldn't have been possible without the help of others in the close-knit racing community.
"I would like to thank a lot of people but especially Dale Rolfe who was my physiotherapist from Sydney West Sports Medicine," he said.
"My partner Ellie Merritt and Joe and Charlene Cleary have also been unbelievable in their support.
"I rode a lot for Joe and he has been a godsend and organised a fundraiser for me when I was doing it tough."