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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SUNDAY: April 17, 2022: EASTER Sunday could hardly have been more egg-citing for three Hawkesbury trainers.

Peter Green, Mike Van Gestel and Norm Lewis between them landed 50 per cent of the Nowra program, winning three of the six races.

Green scored with Butch‘N Bugs ($9), Van Gestel with No Statement ($2.50 second favorite), and Lewis with recent acquisition Heavenly Prophet ($8).

In the process, Green clinched his second winner of the season, Van Gestel his fourth and Lewis his first, becoming the 24th Hawkesbury trainer to get on the scoreboard in 2021-22.

Not only did Hawkesbury win three races, but also supplied the quinella in two of them.

Van Gestel’s No Statement (Kathy O’Hara) beat Terry Croft’s Straya Pride ($5.50) in the Class 1 Handicap (1100m), whilst Heavenly Prophet (Jeff Penza) just edged out Jason Clisby’s Bondadosa ($19) in the F&M Maiden Handicap (1100m).

Peter Green was a relieved man when Butch‘N’Bugs steamrolled his rivals in the Benchmark 58 Handicap (1100m).

Though the gelding was a little slow to begin, rider Louise Day never left the fence and took full advantage of a saloon passage on the home turn when the leader and eventual runner-up Flying Annie ($5.50) wandered away from the inside.

Butch‘N’Bugs made light of his 62kg, and bolted away to score by a widening five lengths, posting the third win of his 25-start career (he has also been placed eight times).

It was a far cry from his previous performance at Wyong on February 15 when he jumped away and then bucked and headed to the outside fence, taking no part in the race.

“That was totally out of character as he had never done it before,” Green said this evening en route home.

“He obviously had a bee in his bonnet that day.

“There was nothing amiss, but we had to trial him before he could race again, and there was no repeat of the Wyong performance when he contested a 740m heat on the Polytrack at Warwick Farm on April 1 (yesterday’s Hall Mark Stakes winner Kementari ran second).

“Butch’N’Bugs has been a great performer for the stable, with today’s win lifting his earnings to just over $100,000.

“We paid only $3000 for him in 2018 at the Scone Inglis yearling sale.”

Butch’N’Bugs was a giant killer on his home track last October when he toppled Godolphin’s $1.18 hotpot Depiction in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1300m).

The Sidestep five-year-old is named after Green and his brother Clint, whose nicknames are Bugs and Butch respectively.

Experienced horseman Green has now prepared 15 winners since taking out his thoroughbred licence and setting up shop at Hawkesbury just over five years ago.

No Statement has provided two of Mike Van Gestel’s four winners this season – and Kathy O’Hara has been aboard in both.

The three-year-old broke through on his home track on November 4, and made no mistake today, scoring by more than two lengths.

Van Gestel bought the Bernadini mare Berning Affair in foal to Press Statement – and No Statement was the product.

The gelding has now raced 11 times for two wins and three placings.

Van Gestel’s other 2021-22 winners were Titan Star at Nowra on September 19, and Charlie Chap at Queanbeyan on January 17.

Norm Lewis got a pretty quick return for lightly-raced filly Heavenly Prophet’s owners when she broke through in the F&M Maiden Handicap (1100m).

The Divine Prophet three-year-old was a $100,000 yearling purchase for Hawkes Racing in 2020, but was unplaced (fifth, sixth and fifth) at three provincial starts late last year and earlier this year before being sold for $6000 online through Inglis Digital in February.

Heavenly Prophet made her debut for her new stable at Hawkesbury on April 5 when third to Assiduity in a 1100m Maiden and, although well beaten, went out at surprisingly good odds today despite dropping back to country grade, especially carrying only 0.5kg more.

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