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  • John Curtis


SATURDAY: January 30, 2021: CLAIRE Lever could not have wished for a better advertisement for her new stable!

New Zealand purchase Grace Bay at Bathurst yesterday made it three wins from only four starts under the former jockey and now fledgling trainer’s care.

Every trainer starting out on a new career needs a horse to highlight their skills – and four-year-old mare Grace Bay is certainly doing that for Lever.

But it has been no surprise at all to the young Hawkesbury mentor.

“Grace Bay has shown above average ability from day one,” Lever said this morning.

“She was one of the first horses to come into my stable after I took out my licence at the beginning of the season, and I’m not surprised she has done so well.

“Her only blemish was a defeat at Warwick Farm, but I feel she will still step up to city grade, though perhaps at her next preparation.”

Lever will be forever grateful that her parents Richard and Bernadette called into the Karaka yearling sale in New Zealand three years ago and secured the daughter of Per Incanto for $30,000 from the Book 2 catalogue.

She races Grace Bay with her mother, and her trainer father prepared her for her first four starts, which yielded a Narromine Maiden victory in March last year and Nowra placing a month later.

Grace Bay bounced off her Warwick Farm sixth to Moana Jewel on heavy ground on January 6 to take yesterday’s Benchmark 66 Handicap (1208m) at Bathurst as a $3.60 joint favorite, lifting her record to four wins from eight starts and just over $60,000 in prizemoney.

Lever understandably was complimentary of both Grace Bay’s performance and that of her jockey husband Chad.

“Grace Bay was posted deep in the early and middle stages, and Chad had to nurse her,” she said.

“She was still dominant in drawing clear over the closing stages.”

Grace Bay was strong through the line in defeating Mont Genep ($4.80), who had made the running, with Bad Boy For Love ($8.50) third.

Lever knows Grace Bay races best on the fresh side, and is in no hurry to find another immediate assignment for her.

“We’ll see what her Benchmark rating goes to after yesterday, and look at the programs to find a suitable race in a few weeks,” she said.

“I’m confident she will definitely manage up to 1400m.”

Though Lever’s training career is only in its infancy, she already has a nice problem.

“I’ve got 16 in work and seven pre-trainers with more horses to come in, but don’t have enough boxes,” she explained.

“But I guess it’s better to have more horses than boxes.”

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