Danis kicking goals in NZ
Darren Danis is starting to hit his straps in the New Zealand apprentice jockey ranks after a frustrating introduction to his riding career for the Malaysian jockey.
The son of former jockey Luke Danis, he credits his father for his introduction to racing, but said he was a late bloomer to the sport despite his father’s profession.
‘‘I never really got a chance to watch Dad ride at the races when I was a child,’’ Danis said. ‘‘Back then they didn’t allow anyone under the age of eighteen to go to the races. However, they managed to sneak me into a few carnival days when I was 17, but apart from that I didn’t get to see him ride.
‘‘Dad now trains in Malaysia and currently has fourteen horses in work. The first time I jumped on a horse I was hooked. I was 17 and it was just after my final exams at high school.
‘‘Dad asked me what I was doing in the holidays, I wasn’t too sure so he said to go and help him at the stables. So I started to help him out and found out what being in the industry was actually like.’’
Despite his mother’s hopes of Danis going to University, he decided to follow his father into the racing game after enjoying his time at the stables.
‘‘Mum wanted me to study because she knew what it was like being a jockey after marrying Dad,’’ he said. ‘‘I started with Dad in Malaysia and after I got the hang of riding Dad sent me to Singapore and I worked for Brian Dean.’’ Dean, a former jockey himself passed his knowledge onto Danis, building on the foundations created by Danis’ father. He was also a key figure in his decision to seek further experience overseas.
‘‘He taught me a lot of things because I wasn’t really that experienced when I was in Singapore,’’ he said.
‘‘He told me I had a lot of potential, but that I needed to broaden my knowledge of horses because I started a bit later than most people in the industry.’’
His first thoughts were to move to Australia, however, after speaking with Singapore-based Kiwi trainer Laurie Laxon he decided to move to New Zealand instead.
‘‘While I was waiting for my Australian visa I was just asking around about New Zealand and Laurie Laxon said Ken Kelso was looking for a worker or an apprentice.’’
Danis moved to New Zealand in October 2014 to join Kelso and spent ten months in his barn before moving to work for Wayne and Vanessa Hillis.
Darren Danis aboard winner Roc de Bank at Te Rapa in June.