‘Shattered’: Tears for jockey killed in race fall
Mourners have gathered at Victoria’s most prestigious racecourse to honour the life and memory of Dean Holland, with moving tributes from the jockey’s family and colleagues.
“My heart is completely shattered,” said Holland’s sister Kristie Arnel, who delivered one of the eulogies as the 34-year-old was farewelled.
The jockey died of injuries en route to hospital on April 24 after being thrown from his horse during a race at Donald in regional Victoria. Jockey Alana Kelly’s mount also fell, but she was able to walk away, and neither horse was injured.
Flemington Racecourse hosted the funeral service for Holland on Monday afternoon, two weeks to the day since the ill-fated Leading Teams 3YO Maiden Plate (1000m).
Nearly 1000 people attended to pay tribute, with the service also streamed for those at country racecourses.
Mr Holland’s coffin was adorned with a floral arrangement, next to his saddle, and a wreath bearing the words “Ride with angels Dean”.
Racing identity and veteran race caller Bryan Martin acted as master of ceremonies.
“At 34 years of age he went to work and never returned home,” Martin told the crowd.
“Today we honour a son, a partner, a brother, a beautiful father, a great mate, loved by all, a great rider.”
Today the racing industry will gather at @FlemingtonVRC to celebrate the life of jockey Dean Holland.
For those unable to attend, please note that @Racing will broadcast the funeral service live from 2pm & @RSN927 will simulcast it on Xtra 2 via the RSN app & website. pic.twitter.com/5MPLLF1Bah
— Racing Victoria (@RacingVictoria) May 8, 2023
The poem A Family Tree was read, followed by eulogies delivered by former chair of the Australian Jockeys Association Des O'Keeffe on behalf of Holland’s parents, as well as uncle Scott Holland and elder sister Ms Arnel.
“We know he was very proud with what he was becoming in the saddle and at home,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“We want to extend our thanks to the race-day medical team, we can't imagine what you would have been going through. We thank you.
“We know Dean would be grateful for your love and support for Lucy and the children, and we are greatly thankful for that.”
“We are grieving today for the most beautiful husband, dad, brother, cousin, and associate to so many people,” Scott Holland said.
“He leaves us broken hearted and with a huge hole in our lives. There’s nothing I can say that will every ease the pain and grieving, but we are a loving family, and that will get us through.”
“Life has a funny way of making us realise we should be more vulnerable with our family members and tell them more often how we feel,” Ms Arnel said.
“Never once did I ever not feel supported, loved or looked (down) upon by you.
“Family gatherings will never be the same without you there taking this piss.”
Senior consultant with Racing Victoria’s Jockeys Assistance Program Lisa Stevens also read a eulogy on behalf of Holland’s in-laws, followed by jockey mentor and coach James Winks, who recalled his last phone call with Holland.
“He was excited about the future, ready to tackle it on, and I was right there in his corner supporting him,” he said.
A mobile phone video of Holland singing Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler was also shown, as well as a picture snapped when he proposed to wife Lucy near London’s Tower Bridge.
The service concluded with a guard of honour held on the Flemington track.
Racing hasn’t been scheduled anywhere in Victoria on Monday to allow people to attend the service or watch the broadcast.
Meanwhile, the online fundraiser started to support Holland’s family has as of Monday morning raised more than $1.7m, smashing its original $500,000 goal.
Holland, born and raised in South Australia, leaves behind wife Lucy and four children — Harley, Luca, Frankie and Lily — all under the age of five.
Holland had ridden 82 winners in Victoria and was fourth on the Victorian jockeys‘ premiership table.
A career highlight was winning the 2019 Adelaide Cup on Surprise Baby, while in March Holland won the $1.5m Newmarket Handicap on In Secret, a late pick-up ride.