It’s been a tough few months for Luke Currie but he finally had cause for celebration after riding his first Hong Kong double at Sha Tin on Wednesday night.
The Australian rider could have been forgiven for wondering whether Hong Kong really is the toughest test for a jockey when saluting aboard his first ride in the city in late January but Currie was literally brought down to earth just a few days later.
A fall in a barrier trial left Currie on the sidelines for more than two months after he suffered a fractured T7 vertebra and he has found things difficult after “having to start from scratch” and rebuild relationships.
Heading into the midweek meeting, the closest Currie had come to a winner in 28 rides since his return was a runner-up finish on Victory Scholars at Sha Tin on Sunday and 19 of those rides had finished seventh or worse.
So it’s no surprise then that Currie was delighted to find his way back into the winner’s enclosure after registering his first success of the night when Touch Faith got the better of a tight finish to win the Class Five Lau Fau Shan Handicap (1,200m).
“I feel like it’s the biggest race I’ve ever won in my life, I’m that happy,” Currie said. “To come back from injury and stay here, it’s been really hard. You need the luck. It’s a starting block again for something that I hope gets bigger.”
Currie came with a strong late finish on Touch Faith, who ran on strongly from the rear of the field in the home straight to beat General Trump by a nose, with Telecom Missile just a head further behind in third.
John Size is one of the trainers Currie will be hoping to impress going forward and the 11-time champion handler was thrilled with the ride Touch Faith received.
“He couldn’t have ridden it any better,” Size said. “It was a beautiful ride. The horse jumped well and that helped but from then on, he had him travelling beautifully in the run.
“He looked like a winner a long way from home. The second horse might have just got out of stride and it favoured us.
“I know that [Currie is] there and he rides at 119 pounds and he’s strong enough for a horse like this. I was looking to give him an opportunity to ride and when I had a look to see who didn’t have a ride, I chose him.”
Currie ‘three to four weeks away’ from return to saddle
Touch Faith took advantage of a drop to Class Five company and Size had confidence in his chances as he switched surfaces to the all-weather track.
“He hasn’t shown any form on the dirt track but his trackwork is quite good on it, so when he got into the race and the gate was very nice, we thought he might run well,” Size said.
Currie and Size teamed up again later on the card when Amazing Teens managed to salute from draw 14 in the Class Four Mai Po Handicap (1,650m).
Three rides, two wins! 🔥 Luke Currie slams in his second win this evening for trainer John Size as Amazing Teens lets rip out wide. @Racing #HKracing pic.twitter.com/ahdJJ5Jnbq— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 4, 2022
The four-year-old benefited from a fantastic piece of riding by Currie, who prevented Blake Shinn from getting a gap on the strong-travelling Unite Spirit rounding the home turn before kicking his mount clear to win by two lengths.
Meanwhile, Tony Cruz is just two winners away from 1,400 victories as a trainer after a treble on the card.
He was first on the mark when Shinn rode his first winner for the trainer at his 23rd attempt when winning the Class Five Lam Tei Handicap (1,400m) – the only turf race on the night – aboard Brave Power, before veteran Lady First won for the first time since January 2021 when landing the first section of the Class Four Nam Sang Wai Handicap (1,200m).
Cruz completed his treble when Berlin Tango got a dream run up the rail to win the closing Class Two Yuen Long Handicap (1,650m), the most valuable race on the card.