Lever Keen To Break Through For First Country Cup Win (Gunnedah)

Highly Desired and Total Recall – equal favourites on TAB for the $40,000 Mannion Drilling Gunnedah Cup (1600m) – are on track to fight out the finish on Sunday.

Jockey: CHAD LEVER. Picture: Steve Hart

Total Recall ($4) has built up a strong record under the training of Paul Messara and is coming off a last-start fifth in the Scone Country Cup.

Highly Desired ($4) finished ahead of him in third place after reaching the front and failing to hold out the winner Tim's Principal over 1400m.

The step up to a mile on Sunday is ideal for Highly Desired, according to his trainer Claire Lever.

"He loves the mile and if he can dictate in front or be right on the speed he should be in the finish," she said.

Lever's husband Chad will ride Highly Desired and his understanding of the seven-year-old is a key reason why she came to acquire the horse.

Highly Desired was formerly trained by Luke Hilton when he won the Coonabarabran Cup with jockey Chad Lever in charge last October.

The galloper has raced three times for trainer Lever since finishing closer each time for a fifth, fourth and third. His latest effort demonstrated he was ready to peak at Gunnedah, according to Lever.

"I'm pretty confident he will go well. He hasn't taken a backward step since his last start," she said. "I would love to see him win as the owners put their faith in me and these country cups are nice races to be in."

The Levers have combined for six wins together and Claire said a win in the Gunnedah Cup would be a highlight.

"We won the Belle Of The South at Nowra together and we qualified two horses for the Provincial Championships at Randwick, but a cup win would be great," she said.

"I only had a couple of runners as a starter when I got this horse and that is why I would like him to do well for the owners on Sunday. "It's only my first season training and Chad has ridden all of my six winners."

Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan has already had five winners this month and will be represented by Bajan Gold ($15). His father Glen will start Unbiased ($8) and Breakdance ($26).

It will also be a family affair for Cheryl Crockett (Mackellar's Love, $16) and her son, Cameron (Zaunkonig, $16) in the Cup. Mackellar's Love won recent feature races at Muswellbrook and Mudgee before finishing third last start in the Gooree Cup.

The other feature race on Sunday is the James Bradford Rural Lightning Showcase (1000m) where Bryans Babe is favourite at $5. The track rating at Gunnedah is a Good 4 with the rail in the True position.

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