BY SEB MOTTRAM
Holland, 32, has pledged to drop five kilograms and to spend two weeks in isolation to ride at tomorrow's Morphettville meet in Adelaide.
“I’ve really had to cut back on a lot of things this last week and a half,” Holland said.
“I’ve cut my meals in half and got off the beers. It’s just been really light and healthy food.”
But he has had to adjust more than just his diet.
“Exercising twice a day has also been really helpful, I can usually drop half a kilo each time with a bit of sweat gear on.”
Holland has committed to this exceptionally low weight to ride two-year-old filly Away Game for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
The horse is currently second favourite in the $400,000 Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes - a 1200m sprint.
Co-trainer Maher was unsure if Holland would accept the ride, but was “hopeful” he would.
“Dean was our first choice to ride [Away Game] on Saturday,” Maher said.
“It’s a lot of effort for the ride, but hopefully he gets the reward for it.”
Jockeys are not usually required to lose weight like this, but Away Game’s young age when compared to her Sangster Stakes’ rivals has her handicapped with a weight far lower than normal.
Holland usually tips the scales at 52 kilograms, meaning he is already one of the lightest jockeys Victoria has to offer.
Holland is confident he'll hit the right weight before race day.
“I’ve ridden at 46.5 kilograms before, about seven or so years ago,” he said.
“It’s actually been easier this time round to drop the weight.
“It’s been a big sacrifice so far, but I’ve only got a little bit to go. I’ve lost three kilos in a week and a half so I’m feeling positive.”
Jockeys are not exempt from two weeks mandatory COVID-19 quarantine when travelling into South Australia, meaning Holland has sacrificed two weeks of rides in Victoria for one Saturday race day in SA.
“Isolation’s been the hardest part of the whole trip, but it could be worse, because at the moment I’m staying with two other jockeys,” he said.
“I was also lucky enough to be able to bring my fiancée and two young boys over, and they’ve been great at keeping me busy and keeping my mind off things.”
But he believes there are benefits to life in isolation.
“I’m definitely fitter than what I was two weeks ago. The little backyard we’ve got gives us more than enough room.”
The rarity of the occasion is not lost on Victorian Jockeys Association CEO Matthew Hyland, who admits he “doesn’t see something like this often”.
“It’s a massive, massive effort by Dean, going into isolation and looking after his weight,” Mr Hyland said.
“The normal exercise routine he’d do, he probably hasn't been able to.”
It is all for one reason though, with Holland declaring he probably would not have made the journey west had it not been for Away Game.
“She’s a real smart filly Away Game, I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t think she could win.”
Holland will ride Away Game at Morphettville Racecourse in the Robert Sangster Stakes (Race 8) at 4.36pm (AEST) tomorrow.