Image: Bradley Photos
SUNDAY: May 14, 2023: HAVE horse, will travel!
Hawkesbury trainer Mike Van Gestel is having his best season in more than a decade, and is covering plenty of kilometres in the process.
Van Gestel made it eight wins for 2022-23 at Kembla Grange yesterday - only one short of his best ever season in 2010-11 – and has done it with two horses.
No Statement made it four wins for this racing year when a narrow Kembla winner, and there was no rest today in spite of that success.
Van Gestel was on the road again this morning to the Parkes TAB meeting with stablemate Titan Star, who has also won on four occasions this season.
Unfortunately, the gelding couldn’t provide his trainer with a weekend double, finishing sixth in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000m).
He was ridden by Kody Nestor, who later won two races, including the Parkes Cup (1600m) on favorite Osman.
Van Gestel, the father of former RacingNSW chairman of stewards and now Hong Kong stewards’ chief Marc, has had 42 starters this season – and all but one of them have been with his combined eight winners, No Statement and Titan Star.
He recalled apprentice Molly Bourke to partner No Statement ($6) in the Benchmark 64 Handicap (1000m), as she had ridden the gelding when runner-up to Oryx in a similar grade race at Hawkesbury last December.
Undoubtedly, his decision to book the 3kg claimer proved decisive as Bourke’s claim lessened No Statement’s weight to 58.5kg, and in a very close finish the winning margin over Euphrates Dream ($4.60) was merely a whisker.
With a bit more luck, this would be Van Gestel’s best ever season.
He has had a total of 10 placings with No Statement and Titan Star – and six of them were seconds.
. Van Gestel’s victory with No Statement coupled with Royal Randwick trainer John O’Shea’s success at Scone last Friday with Mistress from his second stable at Hawkesbury lifted the number of winners trained at the track this season to 160.
Mistress (Tyler Schiller) was an impressive winner of the Class 1 Handicap (1600m) in such a manner that indicated further victories lie ahead.
A $300,000 Gold Coast yearling purchase in 2021, the More Than Ready filly is raced by John Muir’s Milburn Creek Thoroughbred Stud, and this was her second win at only her sixth start, having scored on debut in a 1300m 3YO Maiden at Newcastle last October on debut at $21.
Mistress is the eighth foal of the Redoute’s Choice mare Allez Wonder, the 2009 Group 1 Toorak Handicap winner at Caulfield.
O’Shea had two runners in the Scone race – the other being import Aldeenaary from his Randwick stable – and said beforehand he considered Mistress his better chance.
However, punters went for the import, who started $3.60 favorite and was never in contention before finishing 10th after being examined behind the barrier and declared fit to start.