Dream return for determined Darren

3 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

What doesn’t beat you makes you stronger rings true in the case of Darren Danis after his world came crashing down following a race fall.

The New Zealand-based Singapore apprentice suffered serious back injuries in the incident last year and he admitted there were times that he doubted if he would ever ride again.

But the plucky 26-year-old held on to his dream to get back into the saddle and fully fit again this season he is living the reality.

Danis has 14 winners on the board, his best since arriving in New Zealand four years ago, and his services are becoming more and more in demand from outside stables.

Darren Danis

Grasping his chances

He is apprenticed to Matamata trainer Wayne Hillis, a former leading jumps jockey, and he said he was making the most of every opportunity that came his way.

“I am very grateful to everybody and I’m getting good support now and everything is going well.

“There was a time that in the back of my mind I didn’t know if I would be back. It was a long road, almost a year, but I stuck at it and I’m glad I did - you don’t forget that feeling of riding a winner.”

Danis moved to New Zealand in 2014 to further his experience, firstly with Ken and Bev Kelso for about 10 months before signing on with Hillis.

Darren is apprenticed to former jumps jockey, Wayne Hillis

Southern disaster

Last year, he was travelling further afield for opportunities in the South Island, but that came to a crushing end at the Phar Lap Raceway when his mount Advent (NZ) (Echoes Of Heaven) clipped heels and fell at the winning post.

Danis fractured his T3 and T4 vertebrae and subsequently underwent a three-hour surgery. Month after month of physiotherapy followed with a regular gym and fitness regime before he was cleared to ride again.

His spirits were boosted during his time off when he was named the Waikato’s Most Improved Apprentice.

“I’ve got a new manager now, Mark Claydon, and he’s doing my rides and it’s going well.” - Darren Danis.

“I’ve got a new manager now, Mark Claydon, and he’s doing my rides and it’s going well,” Danis said.

“I’m very grateful for where I am and to win the apprentices’ premiership is the one for me, that’s the main goal.”

He is a son of former jockey turned trainer Luke and began with his father before a stint with Australian trainer Brian Dean in Singapore preceding his arrival in New Zealand.

“My Dad always taught me that hard work pays off and it’s taken a while, but I’m getting there,” Danis said. “He was training in Malaysia, but he moved to China earlier this year.”