Dar­ren’s hard work start­ing to pay off

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - DEN­NIS RYAN

At age 25 Dar­ren Da­nis could be con­sid­ered a late starter in the race-rid­ing game.

But right now, less than 18 months into his jockey’s ap­pren­tice­ship and with his ca­reer gath­er­ing mo­men­tum, he doesn’t see it that way. On Satur­day at Te Rapa Malaysian-born Dar­ren took his tally of win­ners to six when he brought home Roc de Bank first for Cambridge trainer Chris Wood.

Dar­ren has lived and worked in Mata­mata for three years af­ter de­cid­ing that the New Zealand rac­ing in­dus­try of­fered him the best chance in re­al­is­ing a dream to fol­low his fa­ther’s ex­am­ple and be­come a jockey.

Luke Da­nis forged a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in Malaysia, when his ex­ploits in­clude rid­ing against the leg­endary English jockey Lester Pig­gott. Hav­ing since be­come a trainer but aware of his son’s am­bi­tions, he ini­tially ar­ranged for Dar­ren to go to Sin­ga­pore and then to New Zealand.

‘‘I got to ride in tri­als in Sin­ga­pore be­fore com­ing to New Zealand,’’ says Dar­ren.

‘‘It was hard at first af­ter be­ing used to city life, but once I got set­tled in things be­gan to work out for me.’’

A turn­ing point was join­ing up with the Wayne Hil­lis sta­ble and sign­ing his ap­pren­tice pa­pers in Fe­bru­ary last year. Be­ing rel­a­tively tall for a bud­ding jockey was a con­cern, but Dar­ren has played that card dili­gently and is able to make as low as 51 kilo­grams when it’s called for.

Af­ter go­ing win­less in his first

‘‘It was hard at first af­ter be­ing used to city life, but once I got set­tled in things be­gan to work out for me.’’

year of rid­ing, the break­through came at Te Teko in Jan­uary on the Lisa An­der­son-trained Hush Lit­tle Sista and he has rid­den an­other five win­ners since.

The first for the Hil­lis sta­ble was first starter Livin’ On A Prayer at odds of 20-to-one at the early May Mata­mata meet­ing and the same com­bi­na­tion struck again on their home track’s May 31 race­day with an­other debu­tante, $25 long­shot Liq­uid In­spi­ra­tion.

‘‘Wayne and Vanessa have been very good to me, giv­ing me a chance in the first place and then with their own­ers let­ting me ride on race­day,’’ says Dar­ren. ‘‘It also means a lot when peo­ple like Lisa (An­der­son) and Chris Wood put me on, it’s good to see peo­ple recog­nis­ing me now.’’

The other per­son Dar­ren saves a spe­cial men­tion for is his part­ner, Swedish-born Mette Mosebo.

‘‘I can get a bit grumpy when I’m hav­ing to ride at a light weight, but Mette is good the way she puts up with it,’’ he says.

‘‘And when I need a kick in the bum she gives me one of those too!’’

SUPPLIED

Dar­ren Da­nis re­turns on his lat­est win­ner, Roc de Bank, at Te Rapa on Satur­day.

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