Currie seizes another Group 1 chance

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Luke Currie's February exploits at Caulfield are a great example of the importance of taking your opportunities.

Two weeks after executing a masterful all-the-way win on outsider Manuel (Commands) in the G1 CF Orr S., Currie produced a gem of a ride aboard Lyre (Lonhro) in the G1 Blue Diamond S. to claim the biggest win of his long riding career.

Remarkably, Currie was having just his 20th ride for trainer Anthony Freedman aboard Lyre, who had been ridden by Damian Lane in her Blue Diamond Prelude win.

Lane chose Loving Gaby (I Am Invincible) over Lyre and at that stage, Currie, the stable rider for Tony McEvoy, didn't have a ride in the $1.5m feature.

Luke Currie returning to scale with Lyre after their G1 Blue Diamond win

It was Currie's manager Travis Johnstone, a former AFL footballer, who saw the opportunity,

"He's been doing a bit of a work trying to get on her. Brad (Taylor) from Freedmans has been a good supporter of mine, he's been kicking up and a few people behind the scenes have been trying to get me a ride there. It all fell into place," Currie told RSN.

"A couple of jockeys knocked her back because of the weight and that sort of thing, but it’s a case of right place, right time." - Luke Currie

"A couple of jockeys knocked her back because of the weight and that sort of thing, but it’s a case of right place, right time."

Currie was helped by the attitude of McEvoy, who made a somewhat belated decision to run Game Keeper (Fastnet Rock) in the race. He could have held Currie, who had ridden the colt in all of three previous starts, to the ride, but as his jockey had already committed elsewhere, was happy to look elsewhere.

It was just the fourth win Currie had on a Freedman-trained runner and while he admitted he got a bit further back than expected in the run, it worked out perfectly as the much-improved filly swept down the outside to record an impressive victory.

Turning it around

Currie credits Johnstone for turning his career around. Just over three years ago, he had just one Group 1 win to his credit (aboard Roman Arch in the 2003 Australian Cup) and he admits that he contemplated calling it quits when returning from Mauritius about five years ago.

Linking up with Johnstone saw him put a lot more focus on his fitness. That allowed him to get on the radar of top-line trainers like Ciaron Maher and now McEvoy. He has now ridden seven Group 1 winners including two in the past three weeks.

Currie said the crucial moment in Saturday's race came at the top of the straight when Brooklyn Hustle (Starspangledbanner) came up on his outside.

"When she came around, she kicked up again, that seemed to help us and she got going from there." - Luke Currie

"Because you are coming from back and chasing those horses to the inside, it probably took Brooklyn Hustle coming around her and it really switched her on. When she came around, she kicked up again, that seemed to help us and she got going from there," he said.

Lyre taking out the G1 Blue Diamond

Lyre is now third favourite for the G1 Golden Slipper S. in four weeks' time and Currie believes the Melbourne form can measure up against Sydney's best in the coming weeks.

"I suppose you look at Written By (Written Tycoon) last year. He came out and ran really well in Sydney. Those fillies this year have looked really good. It’s always hard to line-up until they get there," he said.

"It’s always hard to line-up until they get there." - Luke Currie

Only one horse has completed the Blue Diamond - Golden Slipper double since Courtza (Pompeii Court) did it in 1989 and that was Sepoy (Elusive Quality {USA}) in 2011.

Whether Currie will be on Lyre going forward is not assured, with McEvoy still having several possible options for the world's richest 2-year-old race.

Currie said he will sort that out in the coming days.


Manuel retains strong form

Meanwhile, the jockey said he was pleased with Manuel's efforts in the G1 Futurity S. where he was beaten just over a length by Alizee (Sepoy).

He said he didn't quite jump as expected but remains in good form.

"I just had to give him a little squeeze after he didn’t take up that spot and he can really get rolling along. He worked hard enough in himself, where last time he got there and was quite soft," he said.

"He's going really well. His form is really consistent, especially at weight-for-age. It was a good effort."