Three weeks in quarantine gives you plenty of time to think about things but even with all those hours in isolation Luke Currie couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to his Hong Kong career, tasting success with his very first ride.
Leaving your family in Australia and travelling to the other side of the world to start a new job is daunting enough – let alone doing it in the middle of a pandemic – but the 40-year-old was instantly rewarded for his leap of faith after producing a textbook ride aboard the David Hayes-trained Miracle Victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Securing a winner early on is important in such a competitive jurisdiction and doing it with a $22 hope should endear him to owners and trainers, opening up more opportunities.
After being stuck inside for such a long time, Currie was thrilled to secure such a significant result so quickly, showing no signs of rust.
A Hong Kong first for Luke Currie! 🙌— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 30, 2022
The Australian takes the opener at Sha Tin aboard Miracle Victory for David Hayes! @Racing #HKracing pic.twitter.com/K48iwgGaVH
“The first three weeks sitting in quarantine and then the last two days have been a real whirlwind – I haven’t stopped – so it’s great to get a winner on the board so soon,” said Currie, who has a contract for the rest of the season.
“They set us up with a treadmill and a bike and I couldn’t complain but, gee, three weeks locked up on your own was a long time.
“I’m very glad to get out and get some fresh air but it’s an experience that I can take home and carry for life and hope it brings better things here in Hong Kong.”
Hayes knows how important it is to get a winner early in Hong Kong and was full of praise for Currie’s first-up effort.
“It’s a great start, isn’t it? He put it in a great spot. No matter what their reputation is, Hong Kong is a fresh start and they judge you on what you do. So, it’s really good for him to showcase his riding and win his first race,” the Australian Hall of Fame trainer said.
Luke Currie ready to ‘put in the hard work’ as he prepares for first rides at Sha Tin on Sunday
From barrier six, Currie settled Miracle Victory one-out, one-back to give him the run of the race, building momentum just before they entered the straight and holding off the late challenge of Voyage Bubble to claim the Class Four Tathong Channel Handicap (1,200m) with odds-on favourite Brilliant Way a neck back in third.
It was Miracle Victory’s maiden win at his fourth start – his first in almost six months after undergoing the ultimate gear change.
“He’s had a bit of time off and he was a bit keen and a bit agitated early but once he got back behind those leaders with cover, he settled into the race quite well,” Currie said.
“He came around the corner and was a little bit green and wanted to roll around but he dug deep and I think he will improve deep into his prep with a bit more racing.”
Hayes echoed those sentiments.
“We had to geld [him] and we’ve waited all year and the owners have been very patient and I think he beat a pretty good field today – he might be a horse to keep following,” he said.
Miracle Victory was the first leg of a running double for Hayes, with Jerry Chau Chun-lok piloting Trader home in the Class Four Tai Tam Bay Handicap (1,200m).
It's a one-act affair in the second race as Trader romps in under @JerryChau15, sealing a race-to-race double for David Hayes! ✌️ #HKracing pic.twitter.com/Qb61wkvk5I— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 30, 2022
“He’s been racing well all season, I think he’s had three placings and one win,” Hayes said.
“He was good today. I knew that my old horse [Super Axiom] would lead – he’s the fastest horse in Hong Kong – and I told Jerry [not to] panic if he’s three lengths in front because he sees a ghost at the last 50m, and he did. [I’m] very happy because the owners have been very patient.”