Win Buddy Win: The Danises’ big yell, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Win Buddy Win: The Danises’ big yell

Parents not at Kranji, but still proud of son Darren’s first home win on Run Buddy Run

Dec 21, 2001 was the last time the name Danis was posted on the riding honour roll in Singapore.

It was when former jockey Luke Danis booted home Fury Falcon for former Singapore-based Australian trainer Don Baertschiger (ex-Kranji trainer Shane’s father) at his very last professional ride.

The Malaysian then turned his hands to training in Penang from 2005 to 2016, during which he saddled 167 winners and 385 placings. He also trained in Shanxi, China, for two years before he returned home because of Covid-19.

But it has taken another 23 years before a Danis revisited the Kranji winner’s circle, when perched atop a horse – one named Run Buddy Run, on June 22.

However, it is not the 60-year-old who has come out of retirement to pad up on his score of 390-odd winners as a jockey.

Danis refers to his son Darren, the only one of a brood of three to have followed in his father’s footsteps, and whose dream of riding a winner in his native Singapore finally came true.

“It’s taken a while, but I’m thrilled I’ve ticked off that box,” said the 32-year-old, after he jumped off Run Buddy Run – his 21st Kranji ride at his fifth meeting.

“Sadly, mum and dad couldn’t be here. Dad’s sick and my mum had to look after my brother Danni’s daughter Abigayle.

“It was good to have Danni at the races, though. The family must be watching on TV, and I’m sure we’ll have a nice dinner and a few drinks tonight.”

It has not been all beers and skittles for the lanky jockey, though.

The long wait, two meetings missed through suspension and a bout of dengue – seeing Red Maned win rubbed more salt in the wound – were nowhere near what he endured at his early days in the saddle.

A serious back injury interrupted his budding career in 2017, but he recovered after undergoing surgery and made a successful comeback.

For a while, Danis’ riding career did hang in the balance. But such is the bravado of youth, even in the face of a job fraught with danger, that he came back and has not looked back since.

To get that first win on local soil made all the sacrifices and hardship (eight months of rehab) even more worth it.

As a father, Danis Sr, who dropped everything at his Penang stables to fly to his son’s bedside in New Zealand the moment he heard of the accident, probably feels the emotional rollercoaster ride even more profoundly.

“I couldn’t be at Kranji, but it was still an overwhelming feeling to see Darren win his first race in Singapore,” he said. “There’s more to come, I’ll be there next time.

“A few tears came to my eyes. We’ve been through a lot, he still has the scars on his back.

“I remember how the New Zealand doctor said it was touch-and-go if he would walk again, as the MRI scans didn’t show everything.

“But, when he was able to stand up after the surgery itself, God answered our prayers.”

Danis went on to ride up to 100 winners, including a first feature, the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes on the Mark Walker-trained Star Of Justice in October 2023.

But that desire to ride before his home crowd had always been at the back of his mind. News of Singapore racing closing on Oct 5 was the catalyst.

Danis soon found out he could not ride on the coat-tails of his father, though.

Rides were not laid out on a silver platter, but the ever-smiling young man kept his chin up, confident his turn would come eventually.

He actually had an inkling about Run Buddy Run, even if it was hard to like the $116 chance on his unappealing record of 16 starts without a place for trainer Richard Lim.

“Actually, I did think he had a chance. I’ve been riding him in the last three weeks, and I thought he may run a cheeky race,” said Danis.

“I also watched his past races and he’s a horse who comes from the back.

“But the pattern wasn’t like that today.

“So, I rode him a bit closer, but without using him too much. I rode him for luck, and he’s picked his way through the field to win.”

The Snitzel four-year-old settled in midfield on the rails in the $30,000 Class 5 Division 2 race (1,400m) before popping up as a likely contender at the 300m.

He easily passed favourite Big Day (Bernardo Pinheiro) before holding Golden Eighteen (Ryan Curatolo) safely at bay by three parts of a length.

“Run Buddy Run is a lazy horse and isn’t a good track worker, but it was a nice surprise for him to win today,” said Lim.

“It looks like I have a bit of luck giving jockeys their first win. Last time it was Luis Corrales on Combustion, this time it’s Darren.”