By Brittney Mayotte/Woodbine
Canada: After 14 days’ quarantine, much travelled jockey Darryll Holland cannot wait to get started when the new season makes its belated start at Woodbine on Saturday.
The popular 47-year-old, best known for his association with multiple G1 winner Falbrav, has three mounts lined up as racing returns to the Toronto venue after the coronavirus shutdown.
“I just feel like it’s unfinished business,” said Holland of his decision to relocate to Canada. “I’ve been to the Canadian International meeting, which I thoroughly enjoyed – but I’ve been over for them a couple of times and I’ve not rode a winner here yet.
“I’ve rode winners in America, Hong Kong, Japan – most countries where I’ve raced, I’ve been successful – but I’ve only had a few rides here and I really like the track, I like the people and I just like the way that they do it here, and I thought why not?”
After waiting on his working visa for two years and then delays to the start of the meet (originally scheduled for April 18) as a result of the global pandemic, Holland arrived in Canada last month and concluded his 14-day quarantine period on Monday.
With the help of local agent Mike Luider, who he connected with through mutual racing contacts, Holland is quickly and eagerly getting acquainted with his new surroundings.
“Fourteen days on your own was quite lonely, but Mike sorted out all the groceries for me! So it was beautiful to just get out on the track on Monday and ride a few horses. I rode five or six [Tuesday] morning as well so it’s like being a free man again,” laughed Holland, who last raced in Mauritius in December.
“It’s going to be a weird year,” he went on. “Obviously just being a new lad around the track, it would have been nice for Mike to chaperone me around and just introduce me to the trainers and stuff like that, but it is what it is.
“I’m just so pleased it wasn’t delayed any further. Woodbine has got all the protocol measures and security in place and they’ve shown they can do racing without spectators and follow the rules and that’s a testament to them. I think everybody is just relieved – that’s what I sense on the track.”
So what is Holland hoping to accomplish this season at Woodbine? “Just to ride winners and be safe,” he said. “I used to set targets; I don’t do that anymore. Every horse that I ride will be given every opportunity to win.”