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  • John Curtis


SUNDAY: November 21, 2021: YESTERDAY’S second heat of the Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series at Gosford proved fruitful for Hawkesbury trainers Claire Lever and Garry Frazer.

The pair supplied the quinella in the second heat (a 1600m Class 5 Plate) of the annual series; Lever scoring with Diva Bella (Winona Costin), who defeated Frazer’s Hendo’s Magic (Mikayla Weir).

Thus both horses, along with third placegetter Too Good To Be Tru (Andrew Gibbons), qualified for the $150,000 Final also to be run over 1600m at Newcastle on December 18.

The remaining three heats will be run at Newcastle on Sunday, Hawkesbury the following Sunday and Kembla Grange on Saturday, December 11.

Horses, once they have qualified for the Final, cannot start again in any of those heats.

Diva Bella ($3.70) fought on gamely to beat $26 chance Hendo’s Magic by a half-length – and the result meant Lever, in the first three and a half months of the current season, had already equalled her first season tally of seven winners in 2020-21.

The former jockey had her first runner at Mudgee on August 30 last year and then notched her first success with Grace Bay (ridden by husband Chad) at the Snake Gully Cup meeting at Gundagai on November 13 last year.

It has been a splendid start to the new season for Lever, who qualified two runners (Diva Bella and Grace Bay) for the Provincial Championships Final at Royal Randwick in April and then also had two representatives (Highly Desired, 6th and Grace Bay (11th) in the inaugural running of the $700,000 The Four Pillars (run under Midway conditions) at Rosehill Gardens on October 30.

Diva Bella, a five-year-old mare by Reward For Effort, has won four times and been placed on three occasions from 18 starts.

Two of those victories have been this preparation. She handled a heavy track with aplomb to land a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1400m) at Kembla Grange on October 23 before finishing sixth to Zoushack in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill on November 6.

Frazer’s seven-year-old Hendo’s Magic has now been placed at two of three starts this preparation, and has won up to 2150m.

He resumed when third over 1300m on his home track on October 26 before finishing seventh, again at Hawkesbury, on a heavy track on November 4.

Hawkesbury had three representatives in last season’s Summer Provincial Series Final. Edward Cummings had Duais (later to become a Group 1 winner) and Tri Nations, whilst Peter Green qualified Butch ‘N’ Bugs.

. Hawkesbury won the opening Summer Provincial Final in 2018 at Kembla Grange when then locally-based Bernie Kelly (now training at Scone) scored with Bobbing, whilst leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees captured the next two Finals with Occupy (at Gosford) and Itz Lily (at Wyong).

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