It promised so much….and it delivered.
But in so many ways.
The Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star at TABCORP Park, Melton was being tipped as the best trotting event this season with an all-star cast assembled.
Firstly, race favourite Tornado Valley was scratched on race day morning owing to lameness issues which forced a major reshape of the market while a false start delayed things a little further.
The excitement kept building with tactics reconsidered.
When the starter said go in the 2760m mobile event, the New Zealand invaders came out running with Marcoola, Amaretto Sun and Speeding Spur all showing very good speed while Sky Petite raced handy.
It was Speeding Spur who would lead the event.
The lead time was covered in 83.6 seconds.
With Speeding Spur leading Amaretto Sun, race favourite Marcoola landed the perfect one out/one back trail while Sky Petite, Tough Monarch and Save Our Pennys all occupied positions on the inside.
The pressure was on as driver Josh Dickie allowed Speeding Spur to run along in the lead, the first half of the final mile was covered in 30.2 and 30.7 seconds.
Entering the back straight, Amaretto Sun dropped back sharply which forced Marcoola to take off three wide while Red Hot Tooth, Kyvalley Blur, Big Jack Hammer and Pizza Queen had to check.
Temporale angled three wide from near last and was immediately tracked up by Dance Craze.
The third quarter was posted in 29.2 seconds.
Approaching the home turn, Speeding Spur was trying to fend them off with Marcoola under extreme pressure while Temporale and Dance Craze both unleashed big sprints deep off the track.
In the straight, Temporale and Dance Craze went together while Sky Petite darted along the sprint lane.
Dance Craze ($17.70) would prevail defeating Temporale ($21.40) while Sky Petite ($12.40) was a close-up third.
Race favourite Marcoola ($1.70) finished 11th.
The final split was covered in 30.1 seconds.
The mile rate was 1:58.8 – the track record belongs to Sparkling Success at 1:58.7.
“This is a dream come true,” said trainer Anton Golino as he celebrated his biggest victory in the sport before giving praise to owner Pat Driscoll.
“Nobody deserves this more than Pat, a wonderful man who loves the trotters more than most.”
It was a rare ‘outside’ drive for champion horseman Mark Purdon but yet again, his classy skills were clearly evident.
Possessing an outstanding pedigree, Dance Craze only solidified her lineage with this Gr.1 victory.
Dance Craze is a daughter of champion stallion Muscle Hill from the multiple Gr.1 winning mare La Coocaracha.
Boasting 15 wins from 25 starts, her earnings now exceed $280,000.
The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $100,000 Seelite Window & Doors Grand Prix at Melton on March 9.
Dance Craze joins Marcoola (Dominion) and Tornado Valley (Inter Dominion) as a winner on the Trotting Masters series this season.