• Mr Brightside takes out Saturday's A$5 million (HK$26.5 million) race at Moonee Valley in Melbourne, carrying the Australian jockey to his most valuable victory since March 2021

Hong Kong-based jockey Luke Currie rode the winner of Australia's only fan-voted race, the A$5 million (HK$26.5 million) All-Star Mile, for Ben and JD Hayes on Saturday.

Currie went from Happy Valley on Wednesday to Moonee Valley in Melbourne three days later, answering a SOS call from Mr Brightside's connections after the galloper's regular rider, Craig Williams, broke several bones in a horror race fall at Flemington last weekend.

Without a victory in a major race since he partnered Zoutori to win the 2021 Group One Newmarket Handicap (1,200m) in Australia 10 months before his move to Hong Kong, Currie shifted Mr Brightside off the fence with 500m remaining, moved him alongside favourite Alligator Blood 100m out and drove him to his half-length success over Godolphin-owned Cascadian.

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"I've had a tough last few years with injuries and what not, and things haven't been going quite my way in Hong Kong in the last few months," said Currie, who is the jockey with the city's longest active losing streak - he has experienced 97 consecutive defeats since he steered David Hayes-prepared miler Fearless Fire to win at Happy Valley on December 7.

"I love Hong Kong and I'd love to stay there as long as I can. But it's a very hard environment, so it's nice to come here and pick off a big winner.

"David Hayes has been a great supporter of mine in Hong Kong. We haven't had a whole heap of luck together, but my first ride over there was for David and it won, so I have to thank him and his family, JD and the boys here. I can't thank them enough.

"Also, Craig Williams, I've had my falls and missed out on rides and things like that. I spoke to Craig yesterday. He was happy for me to be riding the horse and he gave me all the info.

"I'm sure a lot of guys would struggle to do that, and not give you the insight. But Craig rang me without me having to reach out to him, so I wish him all the best and I can't thank him enough, either."

Mr Brightside is the fifth winner of the All-Star Mile, which Jockey Club head of racing product Greg Carpenter introduced towards the end of his 18 years as a senior Racing Victoria executive manager.

With Ben Hayes representing the stable of the Hong Kong-raised brothers at Rosehill's Golden Slipper meeting in Sydney, JD was the Hayes boy Currie embraced after dismounting from Mr Brightside.

"This horse is just a beautiful animal. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he just tries so hard," JD Hayes said before praising the jockey's performance. "It was a 10 out of 10 ride from Luke Currie."

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Currie has two assignments at Sha Tin on Sunday, the second of which is John Size-conditioned youngster Sweet Encounter in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000m).

Four riders with Derby engagements celebrated wins at Australian tracks on Saturday. In addition to Currie, Ryan Moore bagged a Group One double at Rosehill, winning the Ranvet Stakes (2,000m) on Dubai Honour before claiming the Golden Slipper (1,200m) aboard Shinzo. James McDonald's Rosehill double included another Group One victory for George Ryder Stakes (1,500m) champion Anamoe, while Damian Lane piloted Gin Martini to a Group Three win at the same venue.

Moore, McDonald and Lane are riding Tuchel, Beautyverse and Galaxy Witness, respectively, in the Derby, for which the prize pool is HK$24 million.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

2023-03-18T07:51:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd