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  • John Curtis


THURSDAY: November 4, 2021: FAMILY comes first!

Hawkesbury trainer Mike Van Gestel had intended to spell his lightly-raced three-year-old No Statement, but bowed to the wishes of a few of his granddaughters who were keen to attend today’s Lander Toyota Ladies Day Cup meeting on his home track.

So he changed his mind – and it paid off when No Statement ($2.60 favorite) led throughout in the Macquarie Liberals Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1100m) to break through at his fifth start after three minor placings.

Ridden by Kathy O’Hara, the Press Statement gelding easily took up the running and fought on valiantly, holding off a late challenge from fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s filly Moon Reader ($4.60).

“I wanted to spell No Statement last week as he is a nice horse and has done a good job at his first preparation,” Van Gestel said this evening.

“I’m sure he will be even better next time.

“My wife Louisa and I have 11 grandchildren, and four of the girls wanted to go to the races today, being Ladies Day, to watch the horse run.

“I relented and kept him in work for another week, and the girls were excited to see him win.

“But he is definitely off to the paddock now.”

Van Gestel had initially hoped to buy No Statement’s older half-sister Sakura Blossom (by Vancouver) at an Australian Broodmare and Weanling sale in April, 2018 at Inglis’ Riverside complex in Sydney.

“We bid on her, but missed out when she went for $50,000,” Van Gestel said.

“Sakura Blossom went to New Zealand and is currently unbeaten from two starts.”

Despite not securing the Vancouver filly, the Van Gestels didn’t give up and later were able to buy her dam Berning Affair, who had raced only twice in Victoria.

“Berning Affair was in foal to Press Statement at the time, and that was No Statement.

“We have since bred a filly by Spieth, and sold Berning Affair to Gerry Harvey.

“I’m getting too old to be breeding too many horses.”

No Statement was Ven Gestel’s second winner this season after Titan Star scored at Nowra on September 19 – and Hawkesbury’s 40th.

. Jean Van Overmeire made the most of an unexpected opportunity to land the $150,000 Listed Lander Toyota Ladies Day Cup (1600m) on $26 outsider Blue Soldier.

Original booking Alysha Collett was unable to ride at the meeting, and Van Overmeire got Blue Soldier to kick back gamely to edge out $2.35 favorite Wheelhouse, who looked certain to win in the straight.

Previously prepared by Annabel Neasham for his first three Australian starts, the import was making his debut under David Payne’s banner.

. Co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott moved to seven winners for the season and claimed an early Hawkesbury premiership lead by scoring with hotpots For Valour ($1.30) and Cross Talk ($1.50).

Tim Clark rode the pair, and as a result also put his name at the top of the jockeys’ premiership with eight winners to date.

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