Claire Lever eyes early success at Orange

Claire Lever believes the ever-consistent Soloist (pictured) can run a big race at Orange on Sunday. Photo: Racing Photography.

Claire Lever will travel to Orange on Sunday with two live chances in the opening races on the transferred Cowra Cup program. 

In the opening event, Platinum Asset (Jess Del Frari, $5) has drawn gate 10 in the 1400m Maiden Handicap, while Soloist (Clayton Gallagher, $2.90) has drawn gate one in the 1400m Class Three Handicap. 

Soloist is a proven country performer, winning his maiden at Orange in February of last year before following that effort up with victories at Moruya and Hawkesbury in July. 

The four-year-old has started 11 times for three wins and four minor placings, and the Your Song gelding returned from a 21-week spell at Canberra on December 30, finishing a good second in the 1200m Benchmark 60 Handicap

“He is going super,” Lever said. 

“The 1200m at Canberra was always going to be too short last start but he hit the line really well.”

Soloist is a versatile galloper, and he has proven that he can win when in front or when coming from behind, and Lever believes he will get every chance from the gun draw at Orange. 

“He has drawn gate one at Orange, we’ve got the claim with Jess on him, and she knows him well, and has had a ride on him now, and hopefully he gets another win,” Lever said.

“We would like him to sit in just behind them, but he is pretty versatile and pretty honest, and wherever he lands, he can run a good race, but Jess will try and find a nice spot from the good gate.”

The biggest query will be the good three surface at Orange, with Soloist demonstrating his best form on rain-affected tracks, but Lever wasn’t too concerned.

“He’s been ultra-consistent. We had a heap of rain when he was racing, and he got through it better than most others, but it was only a soft six at Canberra the other day and he has shown us that he can run well on top of the ground,” Lever said. 

“Plus, he is stronger now and learning his trade a bit better and hopefully he can keep winning and progressing through the grades.” 

Lever’s first runner Platinum Asset has been kept safe in the market after a solid first-up run at Orange on December 30. 

The three-year-old Spieth filly ran into a hot field that day and ran them a long before fading late to finish sixth, beaten 4.06 lengths and Lever believes she will be better for the effort in this ‘easier field’.  

“That was a really, really strong maiden first-up,” Lever said. 

“She found a tough assignment for what was a country grade maiden, and we kind of wanted her to get cover and find the line but she ended up in front.

“I thought she stuck on pretty well, because she was a bit vulnerable first-up and she has come on a bit from the run, and she will be ridden with cover this time, and I expect her to be finding the line.”

Lever, who has had some luck at Orange, was just happy to see the Cowra meeting go ahead after the race day was transferred to Racing Orange following recent flooding. 

“It is really good to be racing,” Lever said. 

“Cowra probably doesn’t suit every horse, but at Orange, they all get their chance to hit the line, and it’s good to see the meeting going ahead.”

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