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Luke Currie’s got the nod for Beauty Joy’s Sha Tin Trophy tilt

October 12, 2022, 2:53:00 AM

Luke Currie will have his first ride for trainer Tony Cruz this Sunday (16 October) at Sha Tin when he gets the leg-up on the quirky but ever-improving Beauty Joy in the HK$5 million G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m).

Luke Currie will have his first ride for trainer Tony Cruz this Sunday (16 October) at Sha Tin when he gets the leg-up on the quirky but ever-improving Beauty Joy in the HK$5 million G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m).

A five-time winner in Hong Kong from nine starts, Beauty Joy has reached a career-high rating of 117, however, an inexplicable win last start indicates there is plenty of room still to move as he commences his 2022 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races trail.

“He looks like an exciting horse, he’s stepping up but from what he’s done so far it’s very nice to be riding him,” Currie said. “I haven’t had a ride for Tony Cruz yet and he’s a legend of Hong Kong, so it’s nice to have one for him and hopefully we can build a relationship and maybe with the horse too.”

Cruz is an iconic figure in the trainers’ stand at Sha Tin, he was crowned Hong Kong Champion Jockey six times (1978/79, 1980/81, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1985/86 & 1994/95) and following his riding career, the 65-year-old has continued to excel as a trainer, best known for nurturing the likes of Silent Witness, California Memory and Exultant.

He also trained Pakistan Star, arguably Hong Kong’s most unpredictable galloper who – while brilliant on his day as a dual Group 1 winner – formed a puzzling reputation for pulling himself up in races.

Beauty Joy’s status for waywardness hasn’t reached Pakistan Star’s level yet but it was on show when he soared to the unlikeliest of victories under Zac Purton in last season’s 2022 G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) – stunning the crowd after conceding an enormous lead to rivals before sauntering home for victory.

However, Purton’s pairing with California Spangle for Cruz has opened the door for Currie to pilot Beauty Joy as the six-year-old shoots for a fourth consecutive win.

“I know Zac’s won on him so many times but Zac at the moment has got a lot of choices in races, so it’d be nice if he can run well and I can stick with him if it’s possible,” Currie said.

This will be Beauty Joy’s first taste of Group 2 racing after arriving in the city as a four-time winner in Australia, including once at Listed Stakes level in Perth.

“They’re all handy horses but he just might be the type of horse that’s on the way up, California Spangle is the standout but he (Beauty Joy) only has to bring the form that he has shown to be competitive again,” Currie said.

The entries for this Sunday’s test also includes Panfield, Russian Emperor, Ka Ying Star, Senor Toba, Tourbillon Diamond, More Than This, Butterfield, Savvy Nine, Turin Redsun, Waikuku, Excellent Proposal and Cheerful Days.

Currie, 41, is enjoying a solid start to the new campaign with three wins. Recently, the expatriate rider’s family moved up from Australia to join him in Hong Kong.

“It’s nice to have them (family) here, it’s such a tough place riding-wise in that there’s so much going on and you’ve got to think a lot, so it’s nice to have your family around you and be able to relax with them, it makes it a lot easier than what last season was,” he said.

Currie will take four rides at Happy Valley’s midweek fixture on Wednesday evening (12 October), engaged to partner the Douglas Whyte-trained Smiling Face in the Class 5 Man Cheung Handicap (1650m).

“He looks like a nice ride – his form is quite good. I know Douglas (Whyte) said that he would be a good ride, so I’m looking forward to riding him,” Currie said.

Smiling Face is a consistent type who will step away from gate one under Currie second-up after closing nicely for fifth upon resumption at the end of September.

Wednesday’s (12 October) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the second section of the Class 5 Pottinger Handicap (1000m).