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'I've got my life back' says jockey after overcoming dark days of drugs ban

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AFTER months of rehabilitation banned jockey Ray Dawson returns to action at Newbury on Friday with a sense of being ‘reborn’.

Dawson, who landed the 2022 Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket on subsequent 1000 Guineas heroine Mawj, was banned for six months in November of last year after a failing a test at Bath racecourse.

Jockey Ray Dawson has got his life and career back on track after a drugs ban

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Jockey Ray Dawson has got his life and career back on track after a drugs banCredit: PA

The 30-year-old, who already had a history of alcohol abuse, had been on a drinking binge which led to taking cocaine as he struggled with the break-up of a relationship with the mother of his daughter, Lila.

“When I failed the test to be completely honest I didn’t take it well,” Dawson told me as he spoke about the dark days following the BHA’s decision.

“I was extremely ashamed. I felt incredibly embarrassed I was back in a position again that had happened before.

“I beat myself up quite bad and was very hard on myself. I was depressed and riddled with anxiety and fear.”

Accepting the issues and support are always key to recovery.

Dawson continued: “The first few months were very difficult.

“I struggled to see a positive outcome. Luckily I was supported by pretty much everyone. Family and friends and the trainers I work with.

“It was odd because everyone around me had forgiven me, but I couldn’t get to the point of forgiving myself.

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“It took at least six to seven weeks to change that mindset.

“I had a negative view on myself. I thought everyone else would have that.”

Dawson, who lives just outside Newmarket, has been assisted in his recovery by the Sporting Chance charity and Alcoholics Anonymous.

He said: “Slowly and surely I felt better and that was mainly down to Sporting Chance and their guidance – they were key for me getting out of the mental state I was in.

“I got completely involved in their program and without that be I’m not sure where I would be. I focus on it every day.

“From New Year onwards I prepared myself. I have worked extremely hard on myself. Mentally and physically. Being in the gym has been like a new obsession.

“I talked to (trainers) Roger Varian and TJ Kent and they gave me hope. TK has been like a second dad to me.

“My life is back. I’m racing Friday and in such a different place.

“I didn’t believe I would get my licence back – that was such a scary place to be when you believe that you won’t be able to do the thing you love.

“I’m full of gratitude and determination.

“It’s been a rollercoaster. I put myself through that. I’ve learnt more than I ever thought I could.

“I’m almost grateful it has happened. Because now I’m on the path I need to be on.”

Dawson’s time away from race-riding has meant he has seen Lila.

He said: “She lives two hours away and it’s not easy but you do what you have to do.

“I’ve spent lots of time with her. That side of my life is good now.

“I’ll ride for Roger Varian and TJ Kent and Peter Chapple-Hyam and can’t wait to get started. Mark Loughnane has also been talking to me and been very supportive.”

As well as Mawj, Dawson has enjoyed other big-race success on the likes of Zain Claudette in the Group 2 Lowther at York and Teona and Believe in Love for Varian.

He added: “I feel reborn, that I can live my dream and I know this is my last chance.”

Take it, Ray. Take it.

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