Post-Race Meeting Report – Saturday 2 February

Former South Australia jockey Chad Lever produced a masterclass at Saturday’s Newcastle race meeting when he steered home four of the eight winners. The 39-year-old quietly spoken hoop started the day with a copy book front running ride on the Chris Waller trained Alier in the 1860 metre Maiden Plate. The New Zealand bred three-year-old was run down at Gosford last start but he cruised along in front over the longer trip on Saturday and he had a good kick in the straight winning by 1.4 lengths.

In race 6, the 1860 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap, Lever settled the South Coast stayer Red Dubawi at the tail of the twelve-horse field. Still last on the home turn, Red Dubawi needed all of the long straight to gather in his rivals and win by a neck.

Successful Warwick Farm trainer Joe Pride made a rare appearance at Newcastle on Saturday and he went home with two winners, both ridden by Lever. Three-year-old Paulo Pace led all the way to win the 1200 metre Maiden Handicap, while stablemate Alnaas came from last to win the 1400 metre Benchmark 64 Handicap.

Lever spoke about his winners following the final event. “Alier is green and has plenty to learn but he can stay. He has a future. Red Dubawi’s last two runs in town were good enough to win todays race. He is such a relaxed horse and the blinkers made no difference to him. Paulo Pace was never going to be beaten once he led despite his greenness. Alnaas was impressive as she just kept coming from last and she will run further. I decided to move to Sydney to try my luck five years ago and it has been a wise decision. I have ridden around 1500 career winners and these days I only ride trackwork for Richard Nutman at Hawkesbury and Chris Waller when he needs me. Newcastle is a fantastic big track, there is none better.” Lever said. He will marry his fiancé Clair Nutman in New York in June.

Australian Hall Of Famer Robert Thompson renewed his successful association with the Gosford trained Invicta on Saturday. Invicta contested the 1600 metre Benchmark 70 Handicap and after beginning well, he trailed the leaders all the way to the top of the straight. The wily Thompson waited for a rails run inside the leader Ardanza and he drove Invicta to the lead at the 200 metre point. The seven-year-old drew clear to win by a length. Thompson has ridden Invicta in six of his seven wins including the 2017 Cessnock Cup. It was the Cessnock champions 4386 career win.

Chris Waller produced a promising stayer Breakdance in the 1500 metre Maiden Plate. The New Zealand bred four-year-old was on debut in Australia after two placings in New Zealand during September. He outgunned his rivals to win narrowly and the gelding will benefit from the hit out.

The race meeting was a blackout for Newcastle and Hunter trainers. Chris Waller and Joe Pride trained two winners apiece, while Jarrod Austin, Pat Webster, Kerry Parker and Ken Parker all saddled up a winner.