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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


TUESDAY: January 18, 2022: MEET Charlie Chap 2!

Hawkesbury trainer Mike Van Gestel, who keeps only a small team and currently has three horses in work, won his third race this season when the latest Charlie Chap scored at Queanbeyan yesterday.

Mature age apprentice Damon Budler continued a remarkable weekend run by bringing the gelding from last to easily land the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m).

It gave him a streak of five unbeaten rides; one at Tumut on Saturday, another at Cowra on Sunday, and Charlie Chap was his third in a row at Queanbeyan.

“I had never met the jockey before but his agent rang up for the ride, so I agreed,” Van Gestel said this morning.

“He did a good job on the horse. Charlie Chap isn’t one to push into gaps but it opened up nicely for him in the straight yesterday and he took full advantage.”

The eight-hour round trip to start Charlie Chap proved worthwhile for Van Gestel, who made only his second visit to race at Queanbeyan.

And though understandably feeling a little tired after such a long day yesterday, he revealed the current Charlie Chap is the second horse he has raced in that name.

“I had the first Charlie Chap for a few runs in late 2001 and early 2002, and he finished up racing in Western Australia,” Van Gestel said.

“He won a few races over there in the country, but the current bloke is definitely the better of the two.”

Van Gestel was sitting at home one day whilst his wife Louisa was out shopping, and bought the latest Charlie Chap online, along with his dam Brookton Dawn (who was in foal to Poet’s Voice).

“I was watching on my computer, and liked the look of him, and didn’t mind his sire Benfica either, so I pressed the button and bought them fairly cheaply,” he said.

“Charlie Chap has been a good horse for us (yesterday’s victory was his seventh along with 12 placings and lifted his overall earnings beyond $232,000), but has been unlucky not to have won more.

“He missed the start hopelessly in the Clarendon 2YO Stakes (1300m) at Hawkesbury’s 2017 stand alone meeting and ran third in a very close finish.

“Unfortunately, he developed a wind problem and underwent surgery in early 2019.

“Charlie Chap came back and won two 1000m races at home, but ended up with scar tissue.

“He should be running over further distances, but I have had to keep him to the shorter races.”

Van Gestel put Charlie Chap up for auction as an early two-year-old at the 2016 Inglis Ready To Race sale, but kept him when he failed to reach his reserve price.

“I have tried to sell him a couple of times, but it hasn’t happened,” he said.

. Whilst Charlie Chap is still on the market, one gathers it will take a pretty special offer for the Van Gestels to part with the now seven-year-old, especially given all they have been through with him.

Following on from Team Vigouroux’s success with Black Banjo earlier at the Queanbeyan meeting, Charlie Chap was Hawkesbury’s 79th winner this season.

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