Jackson Morris credits the first couple of days at school for getting his life on track.
It wasn’t the first lessons he was taught as a not-a-care-in-the-world schoolkid, though.
It was one delivered to him by his son, Patrick, in kindergarten, while his father watched.
‘‘On the board they wrote ‘what’s your dad’s favourite drink?’ He [Patrick] said beer,’’ Morris recalled. ‘‘They said ‘what’s your dad’s favourite hobby?’ And he said ‘drinking beer.’
‘‘It was then I realised I was an alcoholic.’’
Ever since, this reborn jockey has been working hard.
But as any jockey will tell you, riding half-tonne thoroughbreds that can reach speeds of 70km/h is fraught with danger.
‘‘A mate of mine, Adrian Ledger, he fell in front of me at Corowa and he died unfortunately [in a race fall in 2005],’’ Morris said. ‘‘Then Ray Silburn fell two weeks later at Canberra and got put into a wheelchair.
‘‘Then my dad had an accident. He was working for Graeme Rogerson about three weeks after that and he died three times, but they brought him back.
‘‘He’s permanently brain-injured now. I’ve got to look after him and I sort of hit the piss a bit. I know it’s no excuse, but that’s the way I chose. I was a bit young and silly.’’
Five years after riding his last winner, Morris was back in the winner’s circle, at Kembla Grange, on Saturday. He only had the one ride – in a maiden race – and admitted he was lucky to be legged aboard debutant Bionic Girl ($3).
The booking usually goes to trainer David Lee’s son, Jason, who has worked extensively with the horse, who gave the ride to Morris.
‘‘She [Bionic Girl] was a little bit of a basket case when we got her,’’ Morris said. ‘‘She’s real nervy and used to flip over and all that kind of stuff.
‘‘Look, [on Saturday] she stood in there and she was mucking around a bit, but luckily at the right time she lunged forward and the barriers were open.’’
Morris took her to the front and fought off all challengers.
‘‘I haven’t ridden [a winner] for years so the pair of us were probably knocking up a bit that last 100 metres,’’ Morris said after exuberant celebrations.
Morris is hoping for more opportunities, crediting Randwick trainers Anthony Cummings and Kevin Moses with helping him.