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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: April 25, 2022: ANZAC Day became a field day at Bathurst today for Hawkesbury trainers.

Claire Lever, husband and wife co-trainers Mitchell and Desiree Kearney, Terry Croft and another husband and wife training partnership Phil and Tara Vigouroux, between them won four of the seven races.

The Bathurst foursome lifted the number of winners trained out of Hawkesbury this season to 123.

Lever scored with first starter Seaside Sandy ($8.50) in the Gold Nugget 2YO Handicap (1100m), Team Kearney with Lady Shenanigans ($4.60) in the Bill Aspros Cup Benchmark 66 Handicap (1100m), Croft with Speedzone ($3.30) in the Class 1/Maiden Plate (1800m), and Team Vigouroux with Lemaire ($4.20), who continued his excellent recent form in the Soldier’s Saddle Class 4 Handicap (1400m).

Winona Costin celebrated a special achievement of riding 500 career winners by scoring on two of the Hawkesbury quartet, Seaside Sandy and Lemaire.

Sergy Lisnyy rode Lady Shenanigans, and Grant Buckley partnered Speedzone.

For the first time in their brief training careers, Lever and Team Kearney have reached double figures in a season.

In only her second season, former jockey Lever has now prepared 12 winners in 2021-22, and Team Kearney has hit 10.

Lever landed the Gold Nugget with Real Impact filly Seaside Sandy, whom she purchased in association with the Browning family for $40,000 at the Inglis Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association sale held last May.

Lever’s mother Bernadette and her grandfather, legendary retired greyhound broadcaster Paul Ambrosoli, also share in racing the well-named filly, who is the second foal of the Hinchinbrook mare Sandcastles.

Lady Shenanigans is a gelding, but fetched much more as a $300,000 Gold Coast yearling in 2019 before Team Kearney picked him up online through Inglis Digital in April last year as an unraced three-year-old for only $1750.

His Bathurst victory took his earnings to nearly $57,000 – and his co-trainers own him.

“Mitch and I were looking through the catalogue when we noticed this Zoustar gelding which cost a lot of money and was initially with Chris Waller,” Desiree Kearney explained.

“We were aware he had a left hock issue which required surgery and also a tie-back operation, and decided to get a vet check done.

“He passed that and we were prepared to take a risk on him. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.

“We were prepared to spend $2500, so the $1750 was a nice surprise.

“He is the loveliest horse to train, and owning him means he is a real bread and butter horse for our family.

“And he’ll never leave us. Our daughter Isabella loves him to bits and wants him as a hack when his racing days are over.”

Team Kearney had other good news before leaving the track to drive home, witnessing this season’s Canterbury night session star Heza Gentleman easily win a 1000m Open trial after the last race.

Heza Gentleman, already the winner of seven races and an accomplished wet tracker, looks set to build on that tally this preparation.

The Kearneys also are considering backing up last Saturday’s Royal Randwick placegetter Magic Talent in the Listed Hawkesbury XXXX Gold Rush (1100m) at their home track stand-alone meeting on Saturday.

Terry Croft made it six wins for the season when Eurozone five-year-old Speedzone bolted in by three lengths, having only his fifth start since joining his Hawkesbury stable.

Croft took winkers off Speedzone, whose only previous success was in a 1500m Maiden Plate at Kembla Grange in January last year.

Team Vigouroux followed up on their $61 victory with Izfallingdown at Canberra last Friday by winning the feature Soldier’s Saddle with Lemaire, and clinched their fifth season winner in the process.

Named after the brilliant French jockey Christophe Lemaire, who won the 2011 Melbourne Cup on Dunaden in a thrilling finish, the Zariz four-year-old was a shade too strong for $4 favorite Great Buy.

Lemaire has now won two of his last three starts – and it could easily have been a hat-trick as he was narrowly beaten at Scone on April 4 after scoring at Wagga on March 17.

. Sixteen winners have come from Hawkesbury so far this month, with five days yet to run.

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