Luke Currie and Caspar Fownes combined to snap the longest losing runs in Hong Kong’s riding and training ranks, Zac Purton went home sick and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen recorded a race-to-race-to-race treble on an eventful night of dirt racing at Sha Tin on Wednesday.
Currie-ridden, Fownes-trained Lucky Banner was first past the post in the second section of the Class Four Pui O Handicap (1,200m), with Purton last to finish aboard Awesome Treasure in his only completed race before the champion jockey gave up his other six rides.
Lucky Banner’s one-and-a-half-length defeat of long-time leader I Give resulted in Currie, who won the lucrative All-Star Mile in Australia two weekends ago, returning to the winner’s circle in Hong Kong after 105 consecutive losses, a sorry streak that started during December 11’s international races.
“Nice to get the monkey off the back,” Currie said. “I think I haven’t been riding too badly. Obviously, everyone makes mistakes. I’ve had a few mistakes along the way, but all in all, I don’t think I’ve been doing a lot wrong. I just haven’t been finding the right horses on the right day, but today was it.”
Lucky Banner mows them down! 🔥 Luke Currie gets on the board for trainer Caspar Fownes. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/PBKN4QQq2D— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 29, 2023
Lucky Banner, who is one of the lightest gallopers in training, lifted a heavy weight off the back of not only Currie but also Fownes, who had saddled 46 consecutive losers before his $26.10 roughie’s win.
“The horse actually trialled pretty good early in the season on the dirt – [Hugh] Bowman trialled him. He’s just been a bit weak. He’s only small. He’s like 960 pounds,” said Fownes, who is seventh in this season’s trainers’ championship with 29 victories despite going four weeks between wins and celebrating just four times during the months of February and March.
“Hopefully, the horse can just slowly start to improve as he gets older and stronger. We took him to Happy Valley twice, more for him to chill out a little bit. He’s a bit nervous and a bit sweaty.
“He was much better behaved tonight. Of course, draw one really helped us, and very happy for Luke Currie. That’s the most important thing. He needs some support. Hopefully, he can get some more winners and everyone’s happy,” added Fownes, who has prepared two of the Australian rider’s six winners this term.
Adios holds on! Frankie Lor goes race-to-race-to-race at Sha Tin with victory in the finale. 🔥 @KarisTeetan @FCLOR_RACING | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/6dmJA2Cu0W— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 29, 2023
Purton, who reported experiencing flu-like symptoms at Sha Tin, is booked to ride nine gallopers, including All-Star Mile hero Mr Brightside in the Group One Doncaster Mile, on Saturday’s opening day of The Championships at Randwick in Sydney.
While it was a bad night for Purton, it was a good night for Lor, whose runners won each of the last three races on the exclusively dirt programme.
Hava Nageela justified favouritism in the Class Three Silvermine Bay Handicap (1,650m), Youthful Deal took out the Class Three Tong Fuk Handicap (1,200m) under Purton replacement Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Adios held on in the Class Two Tung Wan Handicap (1,200m).
Also multiple winners were three jockeys – Matthew Chadwick, Karis Teetan and Silvestre de Sousa.
Asian One lets down and goes home best! @mattLchadwixk collects a midweek double. ✌️ @JamieRichards3 | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/PjyuLqVA1S— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) March 29, 2023
Chadwick was victorious on Michael Chang Chun-wai’s Speed Force in the Class Five Cheung Sha Handicap (1,800m) and Jamie Richards’ Asian One in the Class Four Kiu Tsui Handicap (1,650m). Unfortunately for Chang, Speed Force’s success in the basement grade does not count towards him avoiding another strike from the Jockey Club’s licensing committee.
Teetan was triumphant aboard John Size’s Shining Fortune in the first section of the Class Four Pui O Handicap (1,200m) and Lor’s Adios, while De Sousa rode Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Zacian to victory in the Class Five Hap Mun Bay Handicap (1,200m) and Lor’s Hava Nageela.
De Sousa’s appeal against the decision of Jockey Club stewards to issue him with a three-meeting ban and a HK$60,000 fine for careless riding on the Hong Kong Derby undercard will be heard on Friday afternoon.