Danis gets back in the saddle
He gets the thumbs up after eight months on the sidelines due to injury
New Zealand-based Singapore apprentice jockey Darren Danis will make his riding comeback today, nearly eight months after suffering a serious back injury in a race fall.
The son of jockey-turned-trainer Luke Danis underwent surgery on his T4 and T5 vertebrae after they were fractured in the racing incident, where his horse Advent clipped heels and fell heavily close home at Washdyke on July 30 last year.
Previously indentured to ex-Kranji trainer Brian Dean for a short while, Danis moved to New Zealand in 2014 before he got the chance to ride at Kranji, basing himself in Matamata on the North Island where he was the winner of 10 races from 169 rides before his injury.
Danis had just been offered more opportunities down South when that fall brought the new venture to an abrupt end.
The road to recovery has been long, with Danis also facing an uncertain future regarding his career in the saddle. But, after months of physiotherapy and regular gym and fitness exercises, the 25-year-old rider was finally given that all-important piece of paper he had been praying for on Feb 20.
"It's been tough, and I was quite down as I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to ride again even if my recovery was coming along well," said Danis. "I was going to the gym four times a week. If I was tired or sore, I would walk or swim.
"My doctors actually told me they would usually not recommend people to ride again after such an injury, but they also know they cannot stop us as it's our passion and livelihood.
"But I finally received my medical clearance on Feb 20, and the next day I was back riding trackwork for the first time."
Riding mainly for his masters Wayne and Vanessa Hillis, Danis was over the moon when he was booked for his first race ride since the fall by trainer Ian George.
He will partner Miss Sequoia in the last race at Matamata today. It is a Maiden race for fillies and mares over 1,00m.
"Ian has been good to me. He often puts me on his horses, and I won on one of his good horses, Deluxe Edition once," said Danis, who won the Most Improved Apprentice award for the Waikato area in October.
"My fitness level is actually okay as I've been working on it a lot. I didn't feel sore after I rode trackwork, even if the part where the plate is can feel a bit stiff at times.
"But there's nothing like race-riding to really bring my fitness back to 100 per cent."
When asked if he would have any fear when he gets the leg-up aboard Miss Sequoia, Danis gave a level-headed answer that reflects his maturity.
"I will tell you after the race. I'm quite excited to be back, but I won't know about that part until I ride," he said.