Luke Currie posts memorable Sha Tin double after injury battle

Elated after the latest twist in a rollercoaster debut Hong Kong season, Luke Currie jubilated in a remarkable Sha Tin double for John Size on Wednesday night (4 May) to seal an inspiring return from injury.

Likening victory aboard standby starter Touch Faith in the Class 5 Lau Fau Shan Handicap (1200m) to the emotion of major race success, Currie completed a 467/1 double for Size when Amazing Teens prevailed in the Class 4 Mai Po Handicap (1650m).

“I feel like it’s the biggest race I’ve ever won in my career, I’m that happy. To come back from injury and stay here, it’s been really hard,” Group 1-winning Currie said after Touch Faith’s win, referencing a trial fall in February which left him hospitalised with a fractured vertebra.

Sidelined for 18 meetings after Pride Of Eight ‘s saddle slipped at Sha Tin on 4 February, the 40-year-old Australian’s mishap contrasted vividly with the perfect start he had made to his Hong Kong stint with victory at his first ride on Miracle Victory for David Hayes on 30 January.

Out of action until 10 April, Currie then contested 28 races after resuming – and filled the placings on only one occasion before taking the mount on Touch Faith, who was promoted into the field with the scratching of Lumen Baba.

“You need the luck. It’s a starting block again for something that I hope gets bigger,” Currie said before then combining with 11-time champion trainer Size with Amazing Teens.

“It’s great. I had no expectations. Having a couple of rides for John Size, I was quite excited and hoped they would run well. One of them (Amazing Teens) wasn’t drawn well (barrier 14) and the other (Touch Faith) was lucky to get a run.

“I definitely didn’t expect to be walking home with two winners. I’ve been back riding for only a month – but a month is a long time in racing without a winner and it does help the mindset a lot. I will get out of bed a lot easier tomorrow morning.”

An animated Size was clearly delighted with Currie’s display aboard Touch Faith.

“I know that he’s (Currie) there and he rides 119lb and he’s strong enough for a horse like this and 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,” Size said.

“Well, he couldn’t have ridden it any better. 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 (General Trump) might have just got out of stride and it favoured us.

“He (Touch Faith) hasn’t shown any form on the dirt track but his track work is quite good on it, so when he got into the race and the gate was very nice, we thought he might run well.”

All three of Amazing Teens’ wins have come on Sha Tin’s all-weather surface.

Blake Shinn posted his first Hong Kong win in tandem with Tony Cruz when Brave Power narrowly claimed the evening’s sole contest on turf – the Class 5 Lam Tei Handicap (1400m).

“It’s a real privilege, an honour to ride a winner for a legend of Hong Kong racing,” Shinn said. “I haven’t had a lot of rides for Mr Cruz – you could count them on one hand. He always greets me politely at trackwork, but rides are hard to come by.

“You have to work hard and ride well to earn your opportunities. It’s nice to get a ride and reward him with a winner.”

Cruz (53 wins) cemented his grip on third place in the trainers’ championship behind Frankie Lor (68) and Size (67) with a treble, which was crowned by Berlin Tango’s success in the Class 2 Yuen Long Handicap (1650m).

A G3 winner at Kempton for Andrew Balding in 2020, the Dansili gelding had contested 15 races in Hong Kong without success until tonight’s breakthrough under a rails-hugging ride by Karis Teetan, who earlier combined with Cruz to win the first section of the Class 4 Nam Sang Wai Handicap (1200m) with veteran Lady First.

Paul O’Sullivan believes Spontaneous has “found his niche” after the gelding made a successful debut on dirt by snaring the second section of the Class 4 Nam Sang Wai Handicap (1200m) under Jerry Chau.

“I might have been a bit late in getting him onto the dirt,” O’Sullivan said. “He trialled on it well and, even though he might have been flattered a bit by how fast they went in the first half of the race, he might have found his mojo.”

The New Zealander savoured a double when Apache Pass landed the Class 3 Tin Shui Wai Handicap (1650m) before Ka Ying Master shouldered top weight of 133lb in defying 11 rivals to clinch the Class 3 Tuen Mun Handicap (1200m) under Harry Bentley for Benno Yung.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Saturday (7 May).

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