Broken bones, traffic jams and a battle with the scales led to a "rough couple of years" for Canberra jockey Kayla Nisbet, but the apprentice hoop is in love with racing again, and back in form and raring to go for her second Black Opal Stakes (1200 metres).
Nisbet will ride Gratz Vella's Motime, a $51 longshot, in the group 3 feature at Canberra's Thoroughbred Park on Super Sunday.
She also has Brett Cavanough's The Monstar ($21) in the listed National Sprint (1400m).
It's taken three years for her to return to Canberra's biggest race, which included a battle with injuries and an unsuccessful stint in Victoria that almost led to her giving the game away.
If a broken ankle and a broken wrist weren't bad enough, she also missed out on a winner when she got stuck in a Melbourne traffic jam.
But after a short break, Nisbet returned, reinvigorated, to Canberra and racing.
She's returned to the winner's circle, including saluting in the Wagga Wagga qualifier for the NSW Country Championships last weekend.
"I encountered a lot of problems," Nisbet said.
"It was a rough couple of years and my weight was probably the biggest issue for a while there.
"I was really struggling with that and I wasn't enjoying riding. I think the break that I took about a year and a half ago, that was probably the best thing I ever did because I've come back riding in a good frame of mind.
"I've got my weight back naturally. It's all come back together for me thankfully, because it was looking a bit hairy for a while there."
Nisbet put her good recent run down to being able to maintain her weight, which has allowed her to focus on riding and not have to worry about starving herself and spending hours in the sauna.
"You need to get good rides to ride winners but you need to ride winners to get good rides, so it took me a little while to find my feet again and get good rides," she said.
"They've started to flow along now and naturally the winners are coming; it's been really good of late."
Vella was happy to stick with Nisbet for the Black Opal; the young hoop guided Motime to his only win from his three starts. That came in a maiden plate (1000m) at Canberra in November, before Vella opted to book Kathy O'Hara when the two-year-old gelding went to Randwick.
But he wanted to reward Nisbet for the track work she rides for him.
Vella felt Motime would mature into a nice horse, but he wanted another run under his belt. He said moving out from 1000m to 1200m for the first time would suit.
"[Nisbet's] riding just as well as any other person there at the moment," Vella said. "She's in good form; she's riding winners everywhere."