Valley Of Dreams In ID18 Trotting Final

15 December 2018 | Chris Barsby

Successful partnerships are worth their weight in gold.

Barrack and Michelle Obama, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, Torvill and Dean plus Brady and Belichick quickly spring to mind.

In harness racing, we have Andy and Kate Gath.

The husband and wife team based at Long Forest work as one with their equine operation, constantly striving for maximum results and always looking for their next star performer.

On a daily basis, Andy methodically evaluates his large team by working them more or less and making radical or subtle changes as he sees fit to gain the best result while Kate strives to better herself when competing against a crack colony of driving talent.

And results have come along in a big way.

As far as Gr.1 victories go. Andy is currently hovering around 40 while Kate has driven in excess of 20.

Hunter and Victoria Cups plus a Chariots of Fire among many others have been collected over the years before finally getting the hands on one of the sports major trophies.

The Gr.1 $150,000 TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final.

In front of a packed TABCORP Park, Melton racetrack, the husband and wife partnership proved victorious when red hot favourite Tornado Valley ($1.70) defied running down to beat a gallant Sky Petite ($104) and Speeding Spur ($3) in the 2760m mobile start feature.

The victory provided a clean sweep of the series.

Off the feature race calendar since 2012, the Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final was restored by officials late last year and a richly talented line-up was chasing the ultimate prize but it was the former New Zealand trotter that proved best.

Under the care of Gath, the Skyvalley gelding has proven to be a revelation by winning 17 of his 20 Australian starts including all seven starts this season.

Starting from gate six, Gath speared Tornado Valley straight to the lead while Big Jack Hammer and Speeding Spur took up prominent early positions.

The lead time was covered in 87.6 seconds.

With Tornado Valley dictating terms and Speeding Spur firmly locked away behind him, early moves came from Save Our Pennys and then Tough Monarch.

The first half of the final mile was covered in 30.3 and 29.5 seconds.

Entering the back straight for the final time, Gath started to quicken the speed while Speeding Spur bided his time for the sprint lane.

Local mare Sky Petite launched a big sprint from back in the field and challenged strongly.

The third quarter was timed in 29.1 seconds.

In the home stretch, Tornado Valley refused to yield while Sky Petite tried valiantly to close the neck margin with Speeding Spur a further 9.6 metres away in third.

The final split was covered in 28.4 seconds.

The winning mile rate was 1:59.5 – well outside of the track record held by Sparkling Success at 1:58.7.

“To win the Inter Dominion tonight blows my mind. It’s the race everyone wants to win and I’ve won one,” Kate said.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am in my career to win the races I’ve won. It’s astonishing.”

Last month, the Gath’s elected to bypass the opening leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the Dominion in Christchurch preferring to set their star performer for their home state feature.

The victory of Tornado Valley elevates him alongside Marcoola, the winner of the Dominion, on top of the leaderboard with 100 points each.

The next leg of the Trotting Masters is the $200,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Melton on January 26.