Stars Come Out To Play In Great Southern

30 January 2020 | Chris Barsby

It’s come a long way in a short space of time.

So much so, it’s now firmly recognised as the best trotting race staged in Australia.

First staged in 2013, the Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star has quickly developed into the main trotting event and the latest version will be another masterpiece.

Last year, the focus was the much anticipated clash between the locally trained Tornado Valley and New Zealand star Marcoola but come race time, it was an entirely different scenario set to play out.

Tornado Valley was a race day scratching while Marcoola didn’t bring his best and finished near the rear of the field.

But that didn’t stop the beautifully bred mare Dance Craze storming to victory, in the hands of catch driver Mark Purdon for trainer Anton Golino and owner/breeder Pat Driscoll of Yabby Dam Farms.

And as it stands, through the events brief history, no trotter has recorded back to back victories.

Previous winners include Vulcan, Keystone Del, Stent, Speeding Spur, Glenferrie Typhoon, Sparkling Success and the above mentioned Dance Craze.

So, will the daughter of Muscle Hill – La Coocaracha become the first trotter to right that wrong?

A last start winner of the E.B Cochran Trotters Cup at Ballarat two weeks ago, the Glen Craven driven mare must overcome a tricky second-line draw (gate 8).

Leading trainer Andy Gath has a dual-pronged attack on the race with multiple feature race winners Tornado Valley and McLovin both representing his stable.

Both trotters are in superb form with Andy’s wife Kate partnering Tornado Valley while 2016 (Speeding Spur) winning driver Josh Dickie takes the lines on McLovin.

The Gath stable prepared 2017 winner Glenferrie Typhoon.

Naturally, the Kiwi trained trotters have a fine record in the event and boast excellent representation again this year.

Boom trotter Oscar Bonavena lines up for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, the Great Southern Star is a feature race their yet to win as trainers but Purdon did drive last year’s winner Dance Craze.

Oscar Bonavena missed a place in his Australian debut last week when 8th behind fellow New Zealand performer Temporale but a better effort is expected this week.

Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett are duly represented with Massive Metro and Temporale and both trotters look to have excellent claims.

Temporale scored a devastating victory last week while Massive Metro was placed in the Inter Dominion Grand Final four starts ago.

Majestic Man, aka ‘Mr Consistency’, from the strong stable of Phil Williamson, warrants respect given his outstanding recent form.

The Majestic Son gelding hasn’t missed a place since the opening leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the Dominion Handicap at Adding back on November 15.

His recent feature race placings include the Inter Dominion Grand Final, Cambridge Flying Mile and the National Trot.

Outstanding local performer Wobelee takes on his biggest test to date but his credentials can’t be questioned, the Alison and Chris Alford prepared gelding has excellent form highlighted by his last start placing in the E.B Cochran Trotters Cup at Ballarat two weeks ago.

Amazingly, Alford is yet to drive a winner of the Great Southern Star.

Nicole Molander prepared Keystone Del (2014) and Kate Gath partnered Glenferrie Typhoon (2017), the only female winners of the Great Southern Star, Kari Males and Kerryn Manning combine this weekend with classy trotter Red Hot Tooth to hopefully etch their names in the record books.

In-form trotter Sundons Courage is another tackling his biggest challenge with owner/trainer Brad Angove providing young reinsman Ryan Duffy with a wonderful opportunity.

Last year, Duffy was placed behind Dance Craze and Temporale with Sky Petite.

Leading reinsman Greg Sugars has been booked to drive Sky Petite this weekend for trainer Steven Duffy.

And Sydney trainer Rickie Alchin has engaged the services of 2018 winner Chris Svanosio (Sparkling Success) to drive his classy performer Tough Monarch.

Oddly, the first five placegetters from last year’s Great Southern Star all line up again this year with Dance Craze, Temporale, Sky Petite, Red Hot Tooth and Tough Monarch all chasing the riches on offer again.

The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 8.32pm local time.