Horse Racing

Injured Williams delivers strategy to help Currie win All-Star Mile on Mr Brightside

Luke Currie has credited Mr Brightside’s regular jockey Craig Williams, who was sidelined after a fall at Flemington last weekend, for helping him devise the tactics to win Saturday’s All-Star Mile.

In what was a thrilling race at Moonee Valley, the weight-for-age star rounded up his rivals and stormed to victory, just over an hour after tragedy struck in the race prior when a horse had to be euthanised following a fall – the third in as many Saturdays in Melbourne.

Currie’s triumph, worth $2.25 million to the connections, came a week after Dean Holland jumped aboard In Secret and won the Newmarket Handicap, picking up the ride just hours after Jamie Kah was thrown from her horse in the same fall as Williams.

Mr Brightside (NZ) ridden by Luke Currie wins the All-Star Mile. Credit:Racinh Photos

Currie said Williams, a Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, played a big role in helping him pull off the tactics to win the race.

“I’ve had my falls and missed out on rides and things like that,” Currie said.

“I spoke to Craig yesterday, and he was happy for me to be riding the horse and gave me all the info. I’m sure a lot of guys would struggle to do that and not give you the insights, but Craig did straight away.

“He 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.”

Among the chaotic celebrations in the immediate aftermath of the race, co-trainer JD Hayes said Williams was in his thoughts.

“Condolences go out to Craig,” Hayes said. “He did such a good effort getting this horse ready and unfortunately one thing led to another, but that was a 10 out 10 steer from Luke Currie.”

“That was a 10 out 10 steer from Luke Currie.”

Asked how Currie secured the ride, Hayes said having his father, David, in Hong Kong helped.

“The old man lives three floors up in Hong Kong, so it was pretty easy, we just asked him to knock on the door,” Hayes laughed. “It was very close between him and Harry Coffey, but he rode that an absolute peach and was so confident going into it.”

The victory for Ben and JD Hayes reinforced their form, a month after the pair won the Blue Diamond Stakes with Little Brose in the same silks.

Mr Brightside’s record among Australia’s top weight-for-age milers is now unquestioned, given his All-Star Mile triumph adds to a Doncaster Mile and group 1 placings in the Champions Mile and Futurity Stakes. He finished fourth in the race last year at Flemington, but thrived around The Valley, swooping over the top of those who tired in the high-pressure race.

But he will next return to Sydney to try and defend his Doncaster title.

“He’ll put himself in an elite bracket [if he can win another Doncaster], but he’s already in an elite bracket in my heart,” Hayes said.

Cascadian and The Inevitable climbed late into the placings, but never threatened the winner.

Stewards took a look at some interference caused at the 500-metre mark when rank outsider Keats was fading on the pace, but ultimately took no action.

Earlier, Florescent Star was euthanised after she fell in the race before the All-Star Mile. Jockey Teo Nugent was taken to hospital following the fall, but was conscious and communicating with medical staff and was moving all his limbs. The All-Star Mile was delayed by 40 minutes.

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