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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SATURDAY: August 20, 2022: SYDNEY racing’s chief steward Marc Van Gestel wasn’t the only member of his family in the news yesterday.

As Van Gestel was announced as Hong Kong racing’s future chief steward, his Hawkesbury trainer father Mike was in the winning list at Canberra.

Van Gestel won the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1200m) with durable gelding Titan Star ($8), ridden by an apprentice he had never previously met.

Newcastle-based Benjamin Osmond gave Titan Star a perfect run behind the two leaders, then got him wider on the track where he needed to be on the “Heavy 10” surface.

The five-year-old fought on tigerishly to defy all challengers, and defeated Tiz War Bro ($13) and Newtown Braveheart ($6).

“To be honest, I had never heard of Benjamin until his manager Craig Rixon (former jockey) rang me,” Van Gestel said today.

“Craig said he wasn’t getting a lot of opportunities, but deserved a chance with his 3kg claim.

“Benjamin apologised after the race, saying he might have gone a bit too early on straightening on Titan Star, but there was no need.

“He did a good job to win on the horse.”

Osmond’s claim lessened the gelding’s weight to 58kg, and it undoubtedly played a significant part in the outcome.

Titan Star won his third race – but his record could be so much better as he has been placed on 16 occasions.

Van Gestel and his wife Louisa purchased the unraced Flying Spur mare Sporty Spur “on spec” whilst she was in foal to Rubick, carrying Titan Star.

Sadly, the mare died in March, 2018 from a colic attack, five months after foaling Titan Star.

Titan Star, at his previous star, almost won a Class 2 Handicap (1000m) at Goulburn at $26 on August 8 on another “Heavy 10” surface.

Van Gestel said son Marc’s appointment to take over from the retiring Kim Kelly as chief steward in Hong Kong made his family especially proud.

“Marc is a hard worker, and very highly regarded in the racing industry,” he said.

“We congratulate him of course, but at the same time we are going to miss him as we didn’t see a lot of him during the COVID lockdowns.”

. Triple Group 1 winner Duais’ spring resumption has been delayed.

The mare was withdrawn this morning from today’s $750,000 Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick because of an irregular heartbeat.

Trainer Edward Cummings is hopeful his star mare will make a quick recovery and be able to head south midweek to contest Saturday’s $1m Group 1 wfa Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Duais is already a winner there, having been successful in the Group 3 Coongy Cup (2000m) last October.

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