SAMMIE Clenton admits she was unsure if she'd ever return to race riding after two serious falls in 2016.
Now after two wins in her first five rides back, the 26-year-old is setting her sights again on the heights of metropolitan racing.
Clenton drove Tessa Burrito down the outside to win at Port Macquarie on Friday before letting Milseain loose at the top of the straight at Muswellbrook on Sunday en route to a five-length victory.
"It was a very good couple of days, I can't complain anyway," Clenton said.
Milseain wins her first Australian race today for @Leesracing . @SammieClenton showed all confidence in her to take her to share the lead for the first time in her career & for the first time out to 9 furlongs on Oz soil. Onwards & upwards now. pic.twitter.com/67MboN5tMR— Sona Bloodstock (@SonaBloodstock) March 24, 2019
"It was a good way to kick it off. It's been great for me."
Both wins were for her boss, Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, who has played a key role in getting Clenton back to racing after she narrowly avoided paralysis in a shocking fall at Scone in October 2016.
Clenton, a stakes race winner aboard Howmuchdoyouloveme and Clearly Innocent, fell from Colour Of Love and sustained six fractured vertebrae and a broken collarbone. That came just six months after a fall at Taree in which she broke her other collarbone.
After becoming a mum and riding a year of trackwork and jump-outs, Clenton returned to the races last Monday.
"It's a lot different, race riding to trials, it's a lot harder on your body and I was a little bit stiff and sore in the legs after yesterday because I had three rides," she said. "I'd only had one ride each meeting before that.
"But my back is good.
"It hasn't given me any grief at all yet, so fingers crossed it stays that way.
"The support I've had since I've been back has been quite overwhelming, which is really good, and I'm really looking forward to the next couple of months."
Clenton, the leading NSW apprentice in the 2015-16 season with 81 winners, said her main goals were to build her form and out-ride her metropolitan claim. For now, though, she was just glad to be back riding winners.
"There definitely was a time when I was thinking about not coming back," she said.
"I did have a good think about it, but once I got the bug back for it, geez, it was hard to shake it. And to be honest, I know nothing else."
Clenton is booked to ride Goldstream for Cody Morgan in the Muswellbrook Cup and Litt Up for partner Tim McIntosh at the same meeting on Friday before heading back to Port Macquarie for Lees on Saturday.
"He's always been so good," she said of Lees. "He's always tried to help me out as much as he could.
"I came to Newcastle one day to do jump-outs and he pulled me aside and said if you want to come back, you're quite welcomed to and we'll get you back riding again. That's really how it all happened."
"My main goal is to outride my metro claim.
"I'm down to a two, but I'm not sure [how many more winners I need]. It's been too long, I'd have to look it up," she laughed.
"That's what our main goal is, between Kris and I. Tick that off the board and obviously maintain good riding form so I have a good grounding when I come out of my apprenticeship.
"I outrode my country claim really quick and I'm into my provincial, because that was our main aim when I came to Kris, and I'm slowly chipping away at it.
"I'm riding at 57 [kilograms] at the moment and I'm just taking it as it goes. We don't need to rush back into things, otherwise I'll end up with an issue with it. If I take my time with it, it's better.
"I'd love to be 55 [kg] by the time I'm ready to ride in metros again, so I can claim off those horses. It just opens the window a bit more for them."
She was pleased her first wins back were on Tessa Burrito and Milseain.
"It was a massive drop back in grade for the horse and it was good for her to get a win and get confidence, and good of Kris to let me steer it," she said of Milseain, a four-year-old Kiwi mare which was unplaced in her first five Australian starts.
"I just started riding work on her the last couple of weeks. She's not a hard horse but she's not exactly easy either. She's very high strung, so it was good.
"Even with Tessa Burrito on Friday, I do most of her work too and she's a bit more of a handful.
"I like the challenging fillies, I always have."