Danis and Khalid win NZ racing prizes

Milan Park Waikato Apprentice Jockeys Awards

Singapore racing took centrestage in New Zealand last Monday after two of its apprentice jockeys were recognised for their emerging talent.

Darren Danis and Khalid Hairi Marzuki were two of the recipients at the annual Milan Park Waikato Apprentice Jockeys Awards.

Danis, who is currently sidelined through injury, won the Most Improved Apprentice award while Khalid, who is going through suspension, was given the Most Promising 1st Year Apprentice.

Both young men received their prizes at the ceremony before an array of distinguished guests from the New Zealand racing industry, mainly from the Waikato area.

Even though Danis is still not 100 per cent fit after that serious back injury he sustained in a race fall on July 30, he would not have missed the occasion for anything. Danis had 10 winners under his belt before the fall.

"I'm out for the rest of the year. After my surgery, doctors told me I had to wait till next January to have a better idea if I can resume my riding career," said the 25-year-old son of jockey-turned-trainer Luke Danis.

"I am really honoured with the award. It motivates me even more to make my comeback."

Based in Cambridge where he is indentured to Kranji trainer Bruce Marsh's son Stephen since August 2016, Khalid, whose riding name is Hairi there, was just as elated with the accolade.

A winner of nine races from 80 rides last season, the 30-year-old son of former jockey Marzuki Sani, has gone on to pad up his overall score with five more wins in the new season and currently sits in a respectable 29th position on the overall standings (both senior and apprentice).

"I'm really excited with the Most Promising 1st Year Apprentice Award. It wasn't easy when I started, so it's really satisfying to win this," said Khalid whose last win came on Sept 20.

"I started to get going only in May this year. It has been a great experience but I do feel homesick and would love to ride in Singapore after my stint here."