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Merrigan back and ready for a new challenge

Jockey Paddy Merrigan

Paddy Merrigan to return to the saddle after a nine-month absence

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  

PADDY MERRIGAN on Saturday vowed to do "everything right" when he returns to the saddle at Uttoxeter on Sunday to put an end to a nine-month absence from the racetrack.

The 21-year-old conditional jockey has been handed his first mount of the campaign by Hawick trainer Alistair Whillans, who has put Merrigan up on Bill's Echo in a 2m5f handicap chase, the last race on the card.

Now attached to Tim Vaughan's stable, having previously worked for Peter Bowen, Merrigan has returned from a self-imposed exile and, with the encouragement of Dai Walters, the businessman behind Ffos Las racecourse, aims to bring a fresh outlook to his career.

Merrigan, who had ledthe conditional jockeys' championship last season, has ridden Bill's Echo once before, when finishing fifth in a handicap chase at Newbury. The nine-year-old is a course winner but has been well beaten in four starts this year over fences and hurdles.

"I'm back and I'm looking forward to it," said Merrigan. "I can't wait to get back in the saddle. I'm grateful to anyone who's going to help me out this season.

"Hopefully I can get back into riding winners and doing everything right. I'm ready for it now. I'll put everything back into it."

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