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  • John Curtis


ONDAY: December 7, 2020: A winner with only her third starter and a trophy success with her fifth!

Hawkesbury horsewoman Claire Lever could hardly have hoped for a better beginning to her training career.

Lever quickly broke through with Grace Bay at the Snake Gully Cup meeting at Gundagai on November 13, and the same mare put the icing on the cake by providing her with her first trophy result at yesterday’s Nowra Cup Showcase meeting.

Given another superb ride by husband Chad Lever – as he did at Gundagai – Grace Bay ($3 favorite) impressively won the Belle Of The South Benchmark 66 Handicap (1200m) against her own sex in the style of a mare going places.

A $30,000 New Zealand purchase at Book 2 of the 2018 Karaka yearling sale by Lever’s father, fellow Hawkesbury trainer Richard Nutman, and named after one of the world’s best beach destinations in the Caribbean, Grace Bay put paid to her rivals once produced on straightening and led home a Hawkesbury quinella from Tara and Philippe Vigouroux’s Elenara ($11).

Miss Twilight ($5.50) was a gallant third under her 61.5kg topweight.

A four-year-old daughter of Per Incanto, Grace Bay now boasts a 50 per cent win record with three wins from her six starts.

And her trainer is confident the best is yet to come.

“She can only get better,” Lever, reflecting on yesterday’s performance, said this morning.

“Grace Bay is still maturing, and we’ve been patient with her.

“She is a big light-framed mare, and there’s been no pressure to push her as Mum (Bernadette) and myself own her.

“We’ll keep going with her for now, but I haven’t had a good look at the RacingNSW calendar to determine when her next run will be.

“She races best on the fresh side (it was just over three weeks since her first-up Gundagai victory).

“Even if it’s another month to her next start, we can give her a jumpout in between races.

“Perhaps she might have a little break after that.”

Lever, who rode 119 winners during her career in the saddle, has had a busy few days – and it isn’t over yet!

She took recent acquisition Highly Desired to another Showcase meeting at Mudgee last Friday, where he finished fifth in the $75,000 Cup (1600m), and is on the road again today, this time to Tuncurry.

Lever runs another new arrival to her stable, former Victorian mare Careless Whisper, in the Class 1 Handicap (1000m).

No prizes for correctly assuming husband Chad of course has the mount!

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