FRIDAY: October 1, 2021: CLAIRE Lever knows the ability yesterday’s Wyong winner Grace Bay has – but not yet remaining The Four Pillars slot-holders so it seems!
In spite of Grace Bay’s first-up victory, the Hawkesbury trainer this morning reported “no interest at this stage” in her for the inaugural $700,000 The Four Pillars (1500m) to be run at Rosehill Gardens on October 30.
Surprising considering the New Zealand-bred mare humped 61kg yesterday in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) at her first start since contesting the Provincial Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick in April, posting her fifth win from only 12 starts.
A well backed $5 chance and with Jason Collett aboard, Grace Bay defeated Major Murphy ($21) and Toro Toro ($9) to impressively begin a new campaign.
Five-year-old Grace Bay’s Benchmark rating was lifted from 68 to 72 following her Wyong triumph.
“Grace Bay is one of three horses of mine (the others are Diva Bella and Highly Desired) I would like to see get a start in The Four Pillars,” Lever said this morning.
“I know Grace Bay will handle the 1500m of The Four Pillars (she was placed over 1400m on her home track in a heat of the Provincial Championships in March to qualify for the final), but we’ll just have to wait and see if she gets a spot.
“Mum and myself race Grace Bay, so we have been able to be patient with her to give her time to furnish and mature.
“There’s been no pressure at all.
“Grace Bay had no luck in the Provincial Championships Final and we could have kept her going for one or two more races.
“But we decided to give her a break, and she showed the benefit of that decision yesterday.
“She has strengthened up in the chest and hindquarters and is a lovely mare.”
Whilst Lever did not trial Grace Bay leading up to yesterday’s resumption, she gave her three jumpouts and had her primed to add to her excellent first-up record.
Whilst eight horses so far have been chosen to contest The Four Pillars, Lever is proceeding as though Grace Bay at present won’t join them in the final line-up.
“She will have to go town now for a Midway Handicap, and there is one (a 1200m Benchmark 72 Handicap) at Randwick in three weeks (October 23),” she said.
“But if we do get an opportunity to run in The Four Pillars a week later, then we will go to a different plan as I wouldn’t run her two weeks in a row.”
Former jockey Lever won seven races in 2020-21 in her first season of training, and has now two races in the new season.
She was the first Hawkesbury trainer to break the ice in 2021-22, scoring with She’s Smart (ridden by husband Chad) at the Forbes Cup meeting on August 1.