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  • John Curtis


SUNDAY: August 1, 2021: IT’S been some week for Mitchell and Desiree Kearney!

The popular Hawkesbury couple won races at Cowra last Tuesday (Jonjo’s Comet) and at Wyong two days later with bargain buy Carlisle Bay to give them eight winners for 2020-21 – their most successful season as a training duo.

No less importantly – perhaps even more so – they chipped in, because of COVID restrictions, to help Warwick Farm trainer Bjorn Baker by transporting his five horses to the races at Royal Randwick yesterday and looking after them.

Desiree got a “gold medal” when he was the personal attendant for last race winner Night Of Power ($9), whilst husband Mitch had to play second fiddle, strapping stablemate and fifth placegetter He’s A Hotshot ($5).

Team Kearney broke through for a city win at the start of last season when they won a midweek Warwick Farm race with Heza Gentleman on August 12.

“Mitch came home on Friday night and said we had been asked to help out by taking Bjorn’s horses to Randwick yesterday,” Desiree Kearney explained today.

“Mitch works for Prestige Horse Transport and is good mates with Bjorn, so we were pleased to become involved.

“My Dad Bill did the afternoon shift for us at our stables, so we could pick the horses up at Inglis’ Riverside complex at Warwick Farm and take them to Randwick.

“It was fantastic to be able to help. We would do it again in a heartbeat.

“This wasn’t about the money; it’s about the industry.

“We’re all in this together and we have to support each other to keep racing going. That’s the most important thing at present.”

. Fellow trainer Claire Lever became Hawkesbury’s first 2021-22 winner on the opening day of the new season when successful at today’s Forbes Cup Showcase meeting.

Lever landed the Class 2 Handicap (1100m) with She’s Smart, who started at the surprising odds of $9 and bolted home by two and three quarter lengths.

She had won a Benchmark 50 Handicap (1100m) with 61.5kg against her own sex at Cowra on July 10.

Lever is the fifth trainer of the much-travelled mare, who began her career in New South Wales and later raced in Queensland before joining the Hawkesbury mentor’s team.

Lever’s husband Chad rode She’s Smart 1kg over at 56kg, but it made no difference as she dropped 5.5kg on her Cowra triumph, and was always travelling strongly outside the leader before bolting away in the run home to easily beat Talihina ($4.20) and $26 outsider Underthespotlight.

“When I first got She’s Smart from Queensland a few months ago, the plan was to win a race with her before she went to stud,” Lever told Sky Thoroughbred Central afterwards.

“She is absolutely flying, so her owners will now have to decide whether to keep her going whilst she is racing so well.”

A Forbes double wasn’t too far off as Lever’s first starter, the well-backed Your Song three-year-old Soloist, started $3 favorite in the Showcase Maiden Handicap (1300m) and hit the front in the straight before being overhauled in the closing stages by $13 chance Inzaghi, prepared by former Hawkesbury trainer Connie Greig, now based at Dubbo.

Former jockey Lever began training only last season and did a splendid job, winning her first race with Grace Bay (ridden by husband Chad) at the Gundagai Snake Gully Cup meeting on November 13, and then adding another six victories to her haul.

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