By Duane Ranger
The Bella Creek based retired roofer Peter Van Buggenum handed out several bouquets to Racing Queensland following his first winner in almost 19 years at Redcliffe Paceway last Thursday.
Just before 2pm, the three-year-old Mr Feelgood filly he bred and owns – Sarie Marais – comfortably won the first event by 8.2 metres.
It was the first win in 10 starts for the filly who is trained by Donny Smith and astutely driven by Angus Garrard.
This was the 72-year-old’s first winner as an owner since Big Time Nukes won at the former Rocklea track on August 25, 2001.
“This would never have happened had Racing Queensland cancelled racing, it’s still just sinking in,” Van Buggenum said.
“Donny and Angus did a great job, this girl was actually an afterthought.
“I previously had a free service to Mr Feelgood and then went to the trough again, but this time paid $1,400 for his service.
“I’m over the moon - I thought she might go close, especially from the good draw (2).
“It was a fantastic feeling considering I listened to the race on the radio at my sister, Willy’s, home in Gympie.
“I don’t have Foxtel and obviously owners and breeders weren’t allowed on the track.”
Not being on-course was the least of Van Buggenum’s concerns, in fact he praised Racing Queensland for its stance.
“They need to be applauded not only for keeping racing alive in the Sunshine State, but for allowing me to race on, when in other circumstances it would not have been financially viable,” Van Buggenum said.
“I picked up an extra $10,000 QBRED bonus for that win.
“Sarie Marais has ran second three times in her brief career so far, and the difference between winning and running second is $10,500.
“It’s amazing, and without these kind of incentives I would never have considered breeding or racing on and next year the horse is eligible for another $7,500 QBRED bonus.
“I’m proud to be racing in this state and I’m proud of the way Racing Queensland has gone out of its way for our wonderful industry.”
Van Buggenum came to Australia with his parents when he was 11, and he named Sarie Marais after an Afrikaans folk song he enjoyed.
“It’s like South Africa’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’,” Van Buggenum said.
“I’ve loved harness racing for almost as long as I’ve been here, and Sarie Marais is the youngest of two foals I bred out of their 2005 Armbro Operative dam, Little Bella Lady.
“Sarie Marais’ older brother, ‘Fred’, is not officially named yet, and he’s four now, but broke down as a 2-year-old.
“Greg Franklin had him when he was a juvenile, and he’s a nice horse, who just needs time.
“He’s also by Mr Feelgood - I got a free service to him in late 2013 thanks to the kindness of Kevin and Kay Seymour.”
He said Sarie Marais had the potential to be his best horse.
“I haven’t had any champions and I’m not saying this girl will be one, but she has already brought me a lot of happiness and the way she went about her business, I don’t think that will be her last win,” Van Buggenum said.