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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: January 28, 2024: MIKE Van Gestel could have had two runners in the same race at Canberra yesterday, but stuck to his original decision to run one – and it paid off.

The vastly experienced Hawkesbury trainer brought off a debut victory with three-year-old filly Dark Glitter ($7), who beat five rivals in the Maiden Plate (1000m).

“There weren’t a lot of entries for the race in the first place, and I had a phone call from stewards five minutes before the 9am deadline on Thursday morning to ask if I also wanted to run Sizzling Tale as there were only six acceptors,” Van Gestel explained today.

“I thought about it, but decided to stay with Dark Glitter (Sizzling Tale has drawn the rails in a 1000m Maiden at Goulburn on Tuesday).”

Ridden by Quayde Krogh (the first of his treble at the meeting), Dark Glitter opened her career on the best possible note, defeating another $7 chance Kitty Jinks and $2.70 favorite Taytay Bay.

The daughter of Spieth is a half-sister to Van Gestel’s tough five-year-old No Statement, who has won 11 races and been placed 14 times from 50 starts.

Van Gestel and his wife Louisa bred Dark Glitter (by Spieth) from the mare Berning Affair, which they subsequently sold to Gerry Harvey, who sent her to New Zealand last year.

The couple had intended to buy No Statement’s older half-sister Sakura Blossom (by Golden Slipper winner Vancouver at an Inglis 2018 broodmare and weanling sale.

However, they missed out on the then weanling, who was sold to New Zealand interests for $50,000, and instead bought Berning Affair, a Bernardini mare who had been unplaced at two Victorian starts, for $12,000.

Berning Affair was in foal to Press Statement- and No Statement was the result.

“Technically we bred No Statement although we didn’t own the mare when she went to Press Statement,” Van Gestel said.

“After No Statement was born, we sent Berning Affair to Winning Rupert, but that didn’t work out and so she then went to Spieth, and along came this filly.

“Dark Glitter is a bit taller and leggier than No Statement, and we didn’t push her as a two-year-old.

“She still has some learning to do.

“Dark Glitter had never been hit the whip in her two trials at Hawkesbury last month, and got a bit scared when it was used on her yesterday.

“She ran away from the other horses in the straight, but was still good enough to win. It was a very pleasing result.”

Dark Glitter was Van Gestel’s sixth winner of the season, and the 83rd from the Hawkesbury training base.

His last two winners have been at Canberra, having also scored there on January 12 with Titan Star in a Benchmark 55 Handicap (1000m).



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