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Luke Danis’ son close to his home debut

Singaporean jockey seen at the Kranji races on April 21, getting geared up for first rides

With nearly five months till the last Kranji meeting on Oct 5, the revolving doors to the jockeys’ room may well keep spinning.

But, as the current list of 14 licensed foreign-based jockeys stands, Darren Danis will be the last one to check in at Kranji’s farewell season.

Sightings of the New Zealand-based Singaporean son of ex-jockey and ex-trainer Luke Danis at the Kranji races on April 21 were the giveaway his local debut was around the corner.

Accompanied by his Kiwi girlfriend Hayley Hassman, the homegrown jockey was actually busy shaking hands with many of the locals – mainly syces and track riders he met during his early days (in 2014) as an apprentice jockey to ex-Kranji trainer Brian Dean.

Invariably, the one question he kept getting asked was “when do you start?”.

“I’m very excited to be here. I start riding trackwork next Monday and I’ll probably take my first rides the week after,” said Danis.

“It’s been my dream to ride here and this is my last chance. It’ll look good on my resume, but it’s also a nice working holiday.”

With work permit paperwork being one item less to worry about, the 31-year-old winner of around 100 races could spend quality time with family first, while introducing fellow jockey Hassman to them and Singapore.

“Dad’s stopped training and is here now. So it was good to catch up with the family,” said Danis.

“Hayley’s also enjoying her stay and taking in the races here. She’s an accomplished amateur rider who’s already ridden two winners back home.”

Danis, whose career highlight is the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes with Star Of Justice for former four-time Singapore champion trainer Mark Walker last October, is fully aware the red carpet will not be rolled out because of his name.

“I’m actually new here, and I need to start building contacts. Dad’s trying to get rides from Mahadi (Taib), but I’ll make myself available for any trainer,” said Danis, who will return to New Zealand after Oct 5.

“It’s also going to be tough because there are so many jockeys now, especially after the three Macau jockeys arrived. But I’ll give it a go.”

Danis was referring to Ruan Maia, Luis Corrales and Charles Perkins, who were the last recruits to join the riding ranks on April 13.

Maia – the only one who rode at Kranji before – has got on the board with two winners, while the other two have struggled to garner rides.