Havlin raring for return after helping Enable conquer Europe
Robert Havlin says Enable's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victory was the perfect way to kick off a week in which he will finally make a return to the saddle on Thursday.
The jockey, 43, has been on the sidelines since January, having voluntarily stood himself down on legal advice, and is entering the final days of a six-month drug ban imposed by French officials that officially started on April 4 and will conclude on Thursday.always maintained his innocence, has been kept busy by boss John Gosden throughout a glorious summer for the yard and, having ridden Enable on debut at Newcastle last November, played a key part in her preparation for her date with destiny at Chantilly.
He will waste no time in getting back to his day job, with Gosden jocking him up for three runners on Thursday, the first two at Lingfield and the third at Chelmsford. At 2.25, Havlin will take the ride on Purser in the novice stakes before partnering Damocles in a maiden at 4.00. He will then make the trip to Essex to ride Heather Lark in another maiden at 6.45 and says he cannot wait to get the leg-up.
"It's been a frustrating time for me and these last few weeks have dragged knowing that the end is near and I'm just looking forward to getting on with things and getting back to normal," he said.
"The last three weeks I've been riding Enable every day, so it was great to see her come through and win the Arc.
"She's a filly who never really shows her full hand at home. She just goes through the motions, which is probably why she has strengthened up throughout the year the way she has.
"Her last piece of work before the Arc was great, she picked up her lead horse and went five or six lengths clear, whereas normally she just goes away past the lead horse and pricks her ears. She's a different filly in the afternoon than she is in the morning."
Riding out has been a key part of Havlin's fitness regime, along with regular lengthy bicycle rides and work at home with an Equicizer, rowing machine, weights and a punchbag. The jockey is therefore confident he is in good condition for his return to competition.
While he has been left frustrated by the ban, Havlin admits he has enjoyed the opportunity to experience the sport from a non-riding perspective and has relished the chance to be involved on a daily basis with some of the best horses in Britain.
"Last week I had three lots; the first was Cracksman, the second was Enable and the third was Jack Hobbs," he said. "I wouldn't mind seeing my name next to them in the racecard one afternoon, but it was nice to have them all in one morning for the time being.
"I don't think I'd ever go into training but I've enjoyed this side of it, speaking to the owners and so on, for all it's been quite frustrating."
Grateful to Gosden
Havlin is also grateful for the support he has received from Gosden during the year, with the trainer not only continuing to offer him work during his suspension but being a vocal supporter during the various appeal stages.
At a BHA hearing to consider whether the remaining seven weeks of the ban should be reciprocated in Britain in August, Gosden told the panel he had worked with Havlin for 17 years and would not have backed him to such an extent had he been of the belief he had made a foolish mistake.
Gosden described Havlin as having gone through "eight months of Kafkaesque hell" but the jockey said the support of his boss had made a difficult time that bit more bearable.
"At the very start, he said to me he didn't want me sitting at home watching other people riding winners that I might have had," said Havlin. "He wanted me to go racing with him so that he could stand shoulder to shoulder with me.
"He's kept me busy and I've been going to meetings when he can't make it, as well as going along to the big ones with him and it's been good to see things from the other side of the fence."
With a return to normality now within touching distance, Havlin says that, while he will never forget what has happened in 2017, he is eager to put the past behind him and get back in the swing of things as quickly as possible.
"I've always been of the belief you need to look where you're going, not where you've been," he said. "I want to just put it all behind me, kick on and do the best I can for the rest of the year."
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