Kelleway lures Holland away from territory

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 January, 1997, 12:00am

Darryll Holland, once one of Hong Kong's star jockeys, is set to turn his back on the territory and ride in Britain as stable number one for trainer Gay Kelleway.

Kelleway, daughter of former top jump jockey Paul, has tempted Holland, 24, with an attractive retainer to ride the pick of her 80-strong string based at Whitcombe in Dorset.

Just over a year ago, Holland went back to Hong Kong to the yard of former top Australian jockey Geoff Lane. At the time he said: 'It is a good job to be going to. It's a small stable with the emphasis on quality not quantity. The horses he has are well handicapped.' Lane had had two quiet years before Holland arrived and his horses had come down the ratings. The pair had some success together and Manchester-born Holland loved Hong Kong racing.

After he received the Kelleway offer, Holland said: 'Gay and I are going to talk about it but nothing has been settled yet. I enjoyed the atmosphere in Hong Kong. You race two days a week, there is no travelling, no expenses and more money. But I have decided to stay in Britain for 1997 anyway, racing on the all-weather tracks and then right through the year.' Leading jockey Ray Cochrane was originally offered the stable post by Kelleway, but he turned it down and has lately suffered from injury and domestic trouble - going missing for some time until turning up at his parents place in Ireland.

Holland, who started out as an apprentice to Barry Hills, had only been on a pony trekking holiday before he saw his first race horse.

He was a quick learner and rode his first winner, Sinclair Boy, at Warwick in 1990. He became champion apprentice in the same period that Frankie Dettori and Alan Munroe began to shine too.

In 1994, he paid his first visit to Hong Kong and rode 28 winners that season.

Holland then caught the eye of Mark Johnston, who needed a stable rider for his powerful yard at Middleham in Yorkshire. It seemed the perfect chance for an up-and-coming lad, but things didn't quite go to plan.

When he took up the role of number one jockey at Kingsley House after Jason Weaver had left the stable to go freelance, the horses were not right and some of the owners, as they do, took the easy view that it was Holland's fault. As a result, Weaver was brought back and Holland lost his retainer.

Holland said: 'There was a lot of speculation that Mark and I had not got on, but that was rubbish. He was most supportive. However, up there in north Yorkshire, it was so quiet for a young lad brought up in the hustle and bustle of a big city like Manchester.

'Coming back here seems like the right move. The old brigade over here can't go on riding forever and that will mean there will be more opportunities for someone with my grounding.'