THURSDAY: April 13, 2023: IT’S already Mike Van Gestel’s best season in 12 years – and it’s not over yet!
The Hawkesbury trainer has only two horses racing – Titan Star and No Statement – and made it seven wins for 2022-23 when the latter scored a gutsy victory at Newcastle yesterday.
No Statement ($8.50) drew barrier 14 in a field of 15 in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (900m), and left his rivals with no excuses.
Jockey Sam Clipperton had him away smartly and the four-year-old defied all challengers over the last 200m to defeat Florida Sky ($7) and Omar ($8) to post the sixth success (he has also been placed 14 times) of his 68-start career.
“No Statement is a natural speed horse, and Sam did a good job,” Van Gestel said this morning.
“He worked hard on him, and it was nice to get another provincial win with the horse.”
Van Gestel trained nine winners in 2010-11, and it’s a real feather in his cap to win seven races so far this season with No Statement (three) and Titan Star (four).
He also has a two-year-old half-sister (by Spieth) to No Statement, which he and his wife Louisa bred.
“She has been broken in, and is a nice filly,” Van Gestel said.
The Van Gestels purchased the filly’s dam Berning Affair (who was in foal to Press Statement and carrying No Statement) for $12,000 at a 2018 Inglis broodmare sale, and later sold her to Gerry Harvey.
No Statement yesterday was having his 16th start this season (for his third win and 10 placings; six of them seconds), and had a break between mid-December and late February.
“I feel there is still some upside with him,” Van Gestel said.
No Statement made it two in a row as he had also scored over 900m in a Benchmark 66 Handicap at the Wellington Boot carnival on March 26.
Van Gestel will be back on the road again tomorrow, this time to Canberra – and is clearly hoping it won’t be a case of déjà vu.
He took Titan Star there last Friday for what was to have been the last of a nine-race program, but the meeting was called off after five races had been run.
“It was a long day; we had to turn around and come home,” Van Gestel said.
Titan Star is also in the last race tomorrow; a Benchmark 65 Handicap (1000m). He has raced seven times at Canberra for a win and four placings.