FORMER star apprentice Jason Maskiell is hoping a win in tomorrow's $225,000 Launceston Cup will help relaunch his stalled Melbourne career.
Maskiell will ride bold front-running stayer The Cleaner, who is second favourite behind Hobart Cup winner Hurdy Gurdy Man, and the leading Tasmanian contender.
It would be perfect timing for Maskiell if he could win Northern Tasmania's biggest race, which will have a huge national audience.
He plans to return to Victoria next month to try to resurrect a once-booming career that was derailed by off-track indiscretions, and there could be no better way to remind trainers of his ability than beating rivals of the calibre of Glen Boss, Craig Newitt and Dwayne Dunn.
Maskiell went from being the leading apprentice in racing's mecca (in 2009-10) to a jockey shunned because of alcohol and drug problems.
His career hit an all-time low in November 2011 when he was suspended for six months after testing positive to ``ice''.
``I was a just a kid when I moved to Melbourne . . . and made a lot of bad decisions that, in the finish, left me down and out,'' he said.
Since returning home, Maskiell has got his life and racing career back in order, and he made a welcome return to the big stage earlier this month when he won the Tasmanian Derby.
``I've been putting my head down and I feel I'm on track,'' he said.
His biggest concern with The Cleaner was the horse's weight (57.5 kilograms).
``He's the worst-weighted horse in Tasmania,'' the jockey said.
``He's won only $255,000 yet has more weight than Dream Pedlar ($700,000), Norsqui ($390,000) and Hurdy Gurdy Man ($303,000).
``Unfortunately, he's had to do his lead-up racing in weight-for-age events, and when you win one of those your rating goes through the roof.
``The others have won mostly handicap races.''
The Cleaner tried to lead all the way in the Hobart Cup but was overhauled by Hurdy Gurdy Man in the closing stages.
He meets Hurdy Gurdy Man on 2kg better terms tomorrow.