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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: February 20, 2022: A lightly-raced and well named three-year-old finally hit the right note and became a solo act at Orange yesterday.

And his Hawkesbury trainer Claire Lever could not have been more pleased when Soloist shed his maiden status as he is raced by family and friends.

Ridden by Ken Dunbar and burdened with 60kg topweight, Soloist conceded between 2.5kg and 7kg to his rivals and beat them in the Maiden Plate (1280m).

The Your Song gelding, having only his third start after placings at Forbes and Bathurst last August, bravely held off She’s Super ($6.50) and Canny Offer ($17).

Bookmakers took risks with Soloist because of his weight and the fact that he was first-up – and paid the penalty for easing his price from $1.50 to $1.95.

“It was great to see him break through after also starting favorite in his first two runs,” Lever said today.

“I purchased Soloist (for $28,000) at the Inglis Classic yearling sale two years ago, and syndicated him amongst family and friends.”

Lever manages the syndicate which includes her mother Bernadette Nutman, her grandfather, now retired legendary greyhound caller Paul Ambrosoli (who was on course to cheer home Soloist), and her husband Chad’s father.

“We have a good group involved in racing Soloist, and he has pulled up well from yesterday’s race,” Lever added.

“I will look for a Class 1 over 1300m or 1400m in the next few weeks to give him his chance to make it two in a row.”

Soloist’s determined victory put the seal on Lever’s best season, with eight winners so far since the beginning of August.

A former jockey, she prepared seven winners in her first season of training in 2020-21, and qualified two horses (Diva Bella and Grace Bay) for the $500,000 Provincial Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick last April.

But she isn’t expecting to repeat the feat this year in the expanded Provincial-Midway Championships.

“At this stage, it’s not likely I will have a runner,” she said.

“I have built my team up to 26, but at least 20 of them are young horses who aren’t ready for a series such as this.

“Hopefully, by the time next autumn rolls around, it will be a different story and we will be looking forward to having representatives.”

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