Holland shows he's all class
DASHING Darryll Holland bounced back from the disappointment of losing his Derby mount Polar Star through injury with a double which simply oozed class at yesterday's traditional Lunar New Year fixture at Sha Tin.
The brilliant English rider has taken the territory by storm since arriving at the start of the season and yesterday's short head double on Geoff Lane's Magic Joy and David Oughton's apparent second string Maraheb in the final two events underlined his immense talent.
He came with a precision-timed challenge on Magic Joy to catch the Gerald Mosse-ridden Pasha in the very last bound in the eighth and then showed all his strength in a finish when holding Walter Swinburn's sustained challenge on Optic Empire in the last event on the card.
You don't get too many finer scalps than Mosse or Swinburn who would have to be on anyone's shortlist of the best jockeys in the world.
Holland was his usual ebullient self as he strode out of the weighing room.
'That was just great, [I'm] really happy with the day which goes someway towards compensating for losing Polar Star in the Derby,' he reflected.
'Magic Joy is a tough character and when I asked him to pick up he responded very gamely.
'I thought I had caught Gerald's horse right on the line but then he thought he'd held on to win.' Holland added that he fully expected Magic Joy to be able to stay a mile, judging by the way he battled on tenaciously to score over yesterday's 1,400-metre trip.
'The thing about him is that he settles so well these days,' said Holland.
'Geoff [Lane] has trained him to switch off and it's worked.
'I think he'd stay a mile no problem at all.' Lane has a 100 per cent record with Magic Joy, having sent him out for two wins since the four-year-old joined him from Neville Begg a few months ago.
Before moving to Lane, Magic Joy had been running somewhat keenly and had not been finishing off his races.
Pasha put in a highly creditable effort for second with David Oughton's Diamond Treasure staying on over the final 200 metres to hold Fortune Basin out of the tierce position.
Bruce Hutchison's Perkyman didn't have the best of runs and finished just on the heels of the placegetters.
He could pop up when the ground eases, especially if he gets the chance to take a voluntary demotion to contest a Class Three event as he did last season when he simply whizzed in.
He appears to hold his form well from one term to the next despite a belated reappearance this time around. The final event developed into a real ding-dong duel over the last 100 metres with Holland and Swinburn going for everything on Maraheb and Optic Empire who was bidding to complete a treble for local handler Chris Cheung Ting-pong.
It appeared that Swinburn, who has been riding in near unstoppable form, was going to force Optic Empire to the front but Maraheb and Holland would not be denied.
Maraheb responded in the gamest fashion to land odds of 20-1 with stablemate, Magnified, a good fourth at 4-1.
'Look Who's Here went off really fast and with Auto-Matching chasing him, I thought they had to come back to me,' said Holland.
'That was how it turned out and David [Oughton] did say that his horse was in good form before I jumped on in the paddock.' Holland, who arrived as a three-month Club Jockey in September but had his stay extended until after the Derby meeting on February 26 due to Frankie Dettori's change of heart, has now ridden 24 winners during prolific stint.
He is in clear third position, four behind Basil Marcus.
He now partners Bogie's Pride in Sunday's Classic Trial but is standing by to jump on David Hill's last start winner Amza Glory in the Derby, depending on Gerald Mosse's riding plans.