Luke Currie aboard Pretty Brazen (Image: Racing Photos)
It took Luke Currie 24 rides to find that return winner, but the jockey could barely have picked a better race to win after landing an upset on $21 chance Pretty Brazen in the group 2 Let's Elope Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
The 39-year-old suffered spinal fractures in a fall at The Valley in February that forced the winner of more than 1300 races out of the saddle for nearly six months.
"(I'm) pretty happy," he said after holding out Arcadia Queen in a tight finish. "It's been a while. I think my last win was on the State Of Origin Day here, which was quite a while ago now. A long time between drinks but it's worthwhile winning.
"I just want to say thanks to all the owners and trainers that have got behind me since I've been back. I've been pleasantly surprised by it all. It's really good and I hope it can continue."
Pretty Brazen held a long-neck advantage on the line from star Western Australian mare Arcadia Queen ($3.80), who showed she was nearing her best again after a hoof abscess slowed her progress earlier in the spring.
Asked if he ever had doubts about coming back, he said: "Not really. I had good support from family, Garry Zimmerman (industry doctor), my physio and of course the surgeons and all the staff at the Royal Melbourne (Hospital).
"They filled me with confidence and I was never in doubt about coming back."
Currie said that he felt Pretty Brazen was going to be hard to beat a long way from home.
"She (Pretty Brazen) presented so well and she'd just been three-wide with cover there, which I was really comfortable with, and that she could come out wider when she wanted to," he said.
"I couldn't hold her slow enough when we cornered. I knew she'd get there early. She's only second-up so she could've been vulnerable late.
"She got a bit tired, so she's still got improvement in her. It was a good effort and I think there's more in her this spring, for sure."
Co-trainer Calvin McEvoy said it was great to see the filly win but even better to see the longtime stable rider record his comeback victory.
"We really have (missed him). He's a great team player and we're thrilled for him to get a Group 2 winner for his first winner back," McEvoy said.
Pretty Brazen, who was a $700,000 yearling purchase, is building a useful CV for her later life as a broodmare as she was also the winner of the G2 Sandown Guineas last November.