By Hans Ebert

It wasn’t just good to hear. It had to be heard. It was inspiring. One seldom cheers on an interview on radio. But listening yesterday to Michael Felgate interview jockey Jason Maskiell on RSN about how one of the most promising riding talents in Melbourne- a champion apprentice- has pulled himself out from the abyss of self-destruction spoke volumes.

There was something Dickensian to his story. One kept waiting for a Fagin to appear. Or to be mentioned. Horse racing is littered with Fagins. The invisible ones are the most dangerous. They feed on the weak. And no one is strong all the time. We may think so. But we’re not.

Listening to Jason Maskiell talk about his roller coaster ride of life brought back memories of hearing stories about him- fighting weight problems, allowing the inner demons to win the battles and where that prodigious talent, like Icarus, flew too close to the sun, too often. His wings were clipped.

It didn’t take long for Jason Maskiell to become another name in a long list of casualties racing has lost along the way. There were stories about a comeback. But that’s just what they appeared to be: stories. New young guns appeared firing on all cylinders- Damian Lane, Regan Bayliss, Ben Thompson etc. Jason Maskiell faded to black.

Sometimes, there’s a need to stare into the bottom of the barrel to see a glimmer of hope. Apparently, Jason Maskiell did. And so with a support system he’s built around himself that includes family, no doubt The Gauch, and highly respected sports psychologist Lisa Stevens, below, he’s in a better place.

Of course, demons are everywhere and it must be a daily battle to stay focused and positive. He mentioned having embraced sobriety. Having his partner Candace and their two dogs from Tasmania soon join him. How he’s back riding winners.

Jason Maskiell is back. Here’s hoping he receives all the support he needs. One of the best remedies for his well being might be a short break away from everything familiar. Like to have him and his partner invited to Hong Kong during HKIR week. Share everything he’s gone through with the great Felix Coetzee who’s in charge of the HKJC apprentices and the mental toughness of someone like Douglas Whyte. Recovery is often a lonely place.

#JasonMaskiell #MichaelFelgate #LisaStevens #mentalhealth #horseracing #TheGauch #HKIR #FelixCoetzee #DouglasWhyte