Tornado Valley NZ
Former New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley signaled his class with a stunning all-the-way victory in the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton tonight (Saturday).
Aided by a brilliant front-running drive from Kate Gath, the richly talented Skyvalley gelding defied race favourite Sparkling Success and Sky Petite in the 2240 mobile start feature.
Having his third local start, Tornado Valley went one better than his effort last week when a runner-up behind Red Hot Tooth in the Knight Pistol at Cranbourne.
Showing good gate speed to lead from his handy draw, Tornado Valley controlled the tempo of the event while Sparkling Success was forced to work hard without cover.
The lead time was covered in 45.2 seconds.
Tornado Valley traveled strongly throughout; the first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 30.9 and 30.7 seconds.
The first move in the race came via Vincennes who eased three-deep passing the 1000m mark.
Entering the back straight, Gath allowed Tornado Valley to stride boldly while Sparkling Success chased gamely on his outside.
The third quarter was covered in 28.7 seconds.
At the top of the straight, Tornado Valley and Sparkling Success were set for an epic stretch battle but Tornado Valley failed to yield while Sparkling Success tried valiantly.
Tornado Valley held Sparkling Success by 1.9m while Sky Petite was further 11.3m away in third after sitting one out/one back throughout.
The final split was covered in a very slick 27.7 seconds.
The winning mile rate was 1:57.2 – well outside of the track and race record of 1:56 held by Keystone Del when successful in 2016.
Tornado Valley is raced by Queensland based owner Norm Jenkin (of Flashing Red fame).
It is the second time Andy Gath has prepared the winner of the Grand Prix after scoring with inaugural winner, former star trotting mare La Coocaracha back in 2001.
An obvious long term target will be the recently re-introduced Inter Dominion series which will be staged in Victoria later this year.
Tornado Valley joins Amaretto Sun (Dominion) and Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) as winners of an Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters event this season, the final two legs will be staged in Auckland next month.
And the race to be crowned the 2017/18 APG Trotting Master is very much alive.
The $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup is scheduled for April 20 while the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup will take place the following week, both events held at Alexandra Park.