Woodbine horsepeople are finally getting a chance to put the famous name of jockey DARRYL HOLLAND to a face.
One of Europe’s, and the world’s, top riders for the past two decades, Holland will make Ontario his home for 2020, seeking a longer race meet in which to settle after years on the move. He has ridden in 20 countries and won Group 1 races in more than half a dozen of those. And he has ridden for some of the greats in European training such as Luca Cumani, Mark Johnston and Charlie Hills.
From his championship title as Britain’s Top Apprentice in 1991, Holland traveled the world and helped some of the top racehorses win important races. The stars he has ridden are too numerous to name but among them, the Horse of the Year Falbrav, winner of the Queen Elizabeth (G1), Eclipse (G1) and International Stakes (g1) all in 2003.
Holland, who has been riding recently in South Korea (predominantly dirt racing) and Mauritius, has now moved to Ontario, Woodbridge to be exact, in order to conquer yet another track, Woodbine. He has ridden here on occasion in various international races but his last ride at Woodbine was almost 14 years ago.
“I’m keen on being here, I have always been interested in Woodbine,” said Holland. “The track is beautiful, well maintained , the grass courses courses are so luscious. I can’t wait to get out there.”
Holland has been assisted in his move to Canada by jockey agent Mike Luider who has guided one of the country’s top jockeys, Emma-Jayne Wilson, to star status.
Trainers at Woodbine, most of whom have been on site since the first weekend of March, finally got a chance to see Holland, and say a social distanced “hello” this week. He had been doing his 14-day quarantine since arriving in Canada.
“Mike was bringing the groceries in for me,’ said Holland. “With no contact with the outside world it’s quite a lonely 14 days to be honest with you.”
Imagine his glee when he hopped on his first horses to gallop this week. “I was so relieved to get on my first horse [Monday] . You don’t really appreciate how much you miss something until it’s gone.”
Holland, who hopes to be joined by his partner and newborn baby boy Rocco later this summer, is full of praise for his new home country’s handling of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
“Canada has shown the way with [handling the pandemic] and with Woodbine setting up the protocols to protect the health and safety of everybody, it’s all good and well.”
There won’t be any spectators in the stands when racing begins this weekend but Holland has a collection of mounts to get things started.
“It’s been a funny year and we probably won’t get back to normal for quite a while yet.” said Holland. “But it is exciting to get started and hopefully try and help some of my mounts to run fast.”