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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SATURDAY: July 2, 2022: AS with a number of Hawkesbury stables, it’s been a breakout season for Claire Lever.

And it got even better at Moruya yesterday when “family horse” Soloist provided her with her 13th winner since the beginning of August.

In a tense finish, Soloist ($4.80) bravely won a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1425m) on a Heavy 9 surface to post the second winner of his eight-start career.

Under his 58.5kg, the Your Song three-year-old edged out Tenerino ($9) and The Boomerang ($61), giving Lever her first Moruya success with her first runners at the track.

Stablemate Gingembre ($81) ran seventh in the preceding race at her first start since last November.

Former jockey Lever’s 13 winners in the first 11 months of the current season have nearly doubled her seven in her debut season in 2020-21.

“I haven’t been training for quite two years, so it’s a fantastic result to have 20 winners already,” she said this morning.

“Everyone is in the same boat, but the wet weather over the last six months has really stuffed up the preparations of a number of our horses with washed out and abandoned meetings.

“Soloist was to have run in a 1400m Class 1 Handicap at Wellington on May 29, but the meeting was called off after the first race and the remainder of the program shifted to Cowra, which also didn’t go ahead.

“With the break between runs (having not raced since April 24 at Wagga), he ran well when fourth to Lolly Yeats (a Rosehill Gardens runner today) at Kembla Grange a fortnight ago, and naturally was fitter going into yesterday’s race dropping back to country grade.

“Soloist was very tough on a heavy track, and has been a good little money-spinner for his owners.

“He has never finished further back than fifth in all eight runs.”

Lever knew plenty about Soloist when she secured him for $28,000 at the 2020 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

“He came from my cousins’ Fairview Park Stud at Grose Wold,” she explained. “I had seen him and liked him, and he fitted our budget.

“Soloist has owners in Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and Sydney and is raced by members of my family and husband Chad’s family and some of his mates.”

Lever also accepted with Soloist at Newcastle today, and took a punt on heading to Moruya.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be another disaster like the trip to Wellington, and was praying the races would go ahead at Moruya,” she said.

“Given the wet weather forecast, I wasn’t sure about Newcastle either.”

. Lever has a number of options, including the $50,000 Forbes Cup (1600m) at the Showcase meeting on July 31, with another of her genuine performers Highly Desired, who in her care has been runner-up three times at metropolitan meetings; the latest on the Kensington track last Wednesday.

“He certainly deserves a city breakthrough,” she said.

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