Horse-racing: Banned jockey James McDonald set for comeback

The long wait is just about over for banned Kiwi jockey James McDonald.

The 26-year-old returns to riding in Sydney on Wednesday after an 18-month suspension for something he says was "unexplainably stupid".

The question is why?

Why would James McDonald - a million dollar a year earning jockey -  jeopardise everything by illegally betting on a horse he was riding in Sydney?

"I can't really answer that," McDonald told Newshub. "It's something I'll regret for the rest of my life."

He netted $4000 for his $1000 outlay after  "Astern" won at Randwick, but the authorities were swiftly onto him, resulting in his lengthy ban.

He appealed the severity of the sentence - but to no avail.  

"I did the crime I'll do the time."

"As a mother you just want to fix it, but you can't, and so it was very hard time for him because he knew he had done wrong," added his Di McDonald.

During his suspension he spent a lot of time with his family back in New Zealand, as well as travelling the world.

In recent times he's also upped his exercise regime as he prepares for his new stint as a "freelance jockey" in one of the world's most competitive racing environments.

Many of the top stables have signalled an interest in using his services, beginning with six rides at Warwick farm in Sydney's south-west - four of them for champion ex-pat Kiwi trainer Chris Waller.

"I don't think there will be much discussion about why we would give him a second chance, there was never a thought he wouldn't be," said Waller.

McDonald knows his comeback will be heavily scrutinised and criticised by some, especially on social media.

"It's just a fact of life, if you want to be in the industry you are going to cop some flak," said McDonald.

For all that, the man they call "J-Mac" can't wait to get back - older, wiser and better than ever.