''People in the industry have been very supportive'' … leading jockey Chris Munce. Photo: Supplied
GRAND SLAM-winning jockey Chris Munce is determined to return to the saddle once his treatment for cancer in his left tonsil is completed.
There is no time frame, but for the next a couple of months it will be doctors, rather than trainers and owners, calling the shots for Munce.
"I obviously want to be back as soon as possible, whether that is three months or six months or longer, it will be up to my recovery," Munce said. "The doctors will tell when I'm right."
Munce's cancerous left tonsil has been removed, and he starts radiation therapy on January 7 to treat the cancer in his throat and tongue. He will ride for the last time at the Gold Coast on New Year's Day. ''I asked if I could ride on Magic Millions day but the doctors said that was not possible,'' he said. ''They wanted me to have a break before starting treatment to put on a bit of condition because it takes a toll on the body.
"The Gold Coast will be my last day because you don't want anything to go wrong which could delay the treatment. It is not something you are going to put off.
"I'll have that little break and be ready to go. They just want to make sure they get it all, so the treatment will include the back of my tongue."
Munce will ride Last Gift, the second pick in early betting for the Bat Out Of Hell, and Goldmarket favourite Morning Captain at the Gold Coast. "I have good book of rides all day. I'm on a good two-year-old [Global Dream] and three-year-old [Regillus]," Munce said. "Morning Captain is a great chance in the Goldmarket based on his past two runs."
Morning Captain was beaten into third in a blanket finish in the George Moore Stakes and just failed to run down Audacious Spirit in the Lough Neagh Stakes last start, and could be the perfect way for Munce to go out before his enforced lay-off.
"I'm not looking at it as the last time I will ride. I will be back," he said.
It is another challenge for Munce, who spent 20 months in jail for tipping in Hong Kong. He returned and established himself among the top echelon of jockeys in Australia, winning the Brisbane premiership last season.
He won Golden Slippers on Prowl and Dance Hero, a Melbourne Cup on Jezabeel and the Cox Plate on Savabeel before taking up a contract in Hong Kong.
He became the third jockey to win the grand slam when he booted home Descarado in the 2010 Caulfield Cup on his return.
He almost added a second Cox Plate on All Too Hard this spring, when he was run down by Ocean Park in the shadows of the post.
A double at Doomben on Saturday took him to 45 wins for the term and has him in the nations' top 15 jockeys.
Munce's his ride on Someday in the final event at Doomben will serve as a reminder of how he can remain calm under pressure, despite being denied a fair start. "The gate was a bit tardy to open, so he didn't get away with them," Munce said. "I just tried not to panic and keep him relaxed. I was lucky that he had enough ability to get the job done in the straight."
After the last, the Brisbane Racing Club invited Munce into the committee room. "That was nice," he said.