IN Racing
Danis returning to Singapore
“It has been 10 years since I last rode at the Singapore Turf Club and just winning a race back home would be quite insane.”
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | February 25, 2024
Northern-based jockey Darren Danis will return to Singapore. Photo: Race Images South

With Singapore Turf Club’s impending closure, there a more people exiting than entering the racing jurisdiction, but New Zealand-based jockey Darren Danis will be one of the few going against the tide.

Danis will make a dream come true in the coming months when he heads back to his homeland to take up a riding contract at the Singapore Turf Club, the place where he began his riding career.

The son of former jockey Luke Danis, Darren first got hooked on racing when he went to help at his father’s barn when he left high school in Malaysia, and subsequently headed to Singapore to commence his riding journey.

“Dad used to be a jockey and was a champion apprentice for two years in a row in MRA (Malaysian Racing Association),” Danis said.

“I started helping him out and then I moved to Singapore to do my apprenticeship. That is where I started to get more into racing at the Singapore Turf Club with Brian Dean.”

Following his mandatory two-year military service, Danis returned to Dean, but it soon became apparent that he needed to head offshore to further his career as a jockey and the decision was made to move to New Zealand.

Fast-forward nearly a decade and Danis has established himself in New Zealand’s senior jockey ranks and earlier this season recorded his first Group victory and brought up his 100th career win aboard the Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson-trained Star Of Justice in the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton.

Danis always held ambitions of returning to Singapore and securing a license with the Singapore Turf Club, and with its looming closure, there wasn’t a better time than now to bring those plans to fruition.

“I always wanted to ride back home but I didn’t think it would be this soon, with the shock move of Singapore (Turf Club) announcing they are closing down in October,” Danis said.

“I reached that target of getting a Group winner and 100 wins at the same time. After that it has been quite slow, hence the decision to try and make a change. It fell into place with Singapore closing down, so I thought a change might give a boost to my career and give me more exposure and experiences.”

While granted a license for the remainder of the Singapore season, Danis won’t be heading to the racing jurisdiction until April.

“I am going back on April 18. I was going to go back and start riding straight away in May, but Mum’s birthday is on April 22, so I thought I better go back for that,” he said.

“It falls into place well. I think there are a few (Singapore) Group Ones while I am there, including the Kranji Mile in May, and the Singapore Derby and Lion City Cup in July. Just looking at the calendar, there are a couple of races I would love to see myself winning.

“It has been 10 years since I last rode at the Singapore Turf Club and just winning a race back home would be quite insane.”

While looking forward to riding in his homeland, Danis said he is more excited about getting to spend a couple of months with his family, something he has sorely missed over the last decade.

“It will just be great being back home with family,” he said. “I have missed out on a lot with my family. My niece is two-years-old and I have only seen her once. It has been a long time and I am looking forward to seeing everyone.

“It’s not just a couple of weeks either this time, I will be working there and doing what I love. I don’t think a lot of my family apart from my Mum, Dad and my siblings have seen me race, so it will be quite nice to ride in front of them.”

While he was born and raised in Singapore, Danis said New Zealand is now home, and he is looking forward to returning to Cambridge to continue his riding career following his Singapore sojourn.

“I don’t know when I will be coming back, but I am coming back. New Zealand is my home now,” Danis said.

“The trainers here in Cambridge have been so supportive after my move following finishing my apprenticeship. The friends that I have are all in Cambridge and the Waikato area, and Hayley Hassman, my partner, and her mum are very supportive. I have a great support network over here.” 

Darren Danis Star Of Justice Singapore Turf Club