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Merrigan set to return after joining Vaughan

PADDY MERRIGAN is set to end his self-imposed exile from the saddle after being issued with a new licence by the BHA on Monday.

Merrigan, who has not ridden for nearly eight months, didnot want to discuss his return when contacted by the Racing Post on Tuesday, but his new employer, Tim Vaughan, the rising star among jumps trainers, is happy to give the talented but previously troubled conditional rider the chance to get his career backon track.

"I will be riding shortly, but I don't want to speak to any papers until next week or the week after," said Merrigan, who hasbeen encouraged in his comeback by Dai Walters, the multi-millionaire businessman behind Ffos Las racecourse and whose hi-tech Cardiff training centre recently became a satellite yard for Vaughan's fast-growing operation, which at the latest count numbers 72 horses.

Vaughan said: "Paddy Merrigan previously rode for Mr Walters, and he started riding out for him about a fortnight ago.

"Mr Walters approached me about taking him on as a conditional because he would give him a few opportunities when Paddy Brennan and Seamus Durack aren't available, and it just made sense for me to hold his licence and get him goingagain.                     

"I think Paddy is very talented. It's just a case of steering him in the right direction. If you can do that, he's a talented young lad."

Before his disappearance from the scene, Merrigan, who claims 3lb, had been leading last season's conditional jockeys' race with 21 winners, but his unexplained return to Ireland left the door open for Brian Hughes to take the title.

Merrigan's licence was withdrawn on March 7 when his then boss, Peter Bowen, notified the BHA that the 21-year-old was no longer in his employment.

Bowen had earlier in the campaign accepted an apology from Merrigan after he appeared to go AWOL for a ten-day period over the festive season in response to being overlooked for the ride on the trainer's Special Envoy in Ascot's Long Walk Hurdle.

Merrigan has previously worked for Heather Dalton, who terminated his employment, and had spells with Pat Haslam and Paul Nicholls.

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