Tornado Valley NZ Photo by Stuart McCormick
It’s the perfect exclamation point.
Former New Zealand trotter Tornado Valley keeps adding to his ever-growing list of feature race triumphs in his adopted state of Victoria following his all the way victory in the Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star at TABCORP Park, Melton last night.
Under the tutelage of Andy and Kate Gath, the Skyvalley gelding has firmly established himself as the best trotter in the country.
Tornado Valley has won 26 races from 35 starts since being purchased from Christchurch.
His haul of big race trophies includes an Inter Dominion, Maori Mile (x 2), Bruce Skeggs Memorial (x 2), Chris Howe (x 2), Knight Pistol, Bill Collins Mile, Coulter Crown, Grand Prix plus a swag of Free-For-Alls named after previous champion squaregaiters.
You could say the Great Southern Star was the missing piece following his scratching last year when he was listed as the favourite before succumbing to lameness issues on the day of the race.
Making full use of his prime draw, Tornado Valley sped to the lead in the 2760m mobile start feature and his rivals were left to play catch-up thereafter.
The lead time was covered in 89.5 seconds.
Tornado Valley, an outstanding frontrunner traveled strongly in the lead while rivals at one point all dropped to the marker line and raced in single file before moves were made passing the mile marker.
Defending champion Dance Craze was the first to move outside of Tornado Valley before highly regarded New Zealand performer Oscar Bonavena parked outside the leader with a lap left to run.
The first half of the final mile was covered in splits of 31.9 and 29.7 seconds.
Entering the back straight, Tornado Valley trotted smoothly while Oscar Bonavena started to race fiercely as McLovin made his move three wide.
The third quarter was posted in 27.9 seconds.
As the field swung for home, Tornado Valley quickly shook off the challenge from Oscar Bonavena as Red Hot Tooth darted to the passing lane with Massive Metro chipping away and making some late ground.
At the line, Tornado Valley ($3.50) lasted by a short half head margin defeating Red Hot Tooth ($15.90) with Massive Metro ($38.80) getting into third.
Oscar Bonavena ($2.80 fav) finished fourth.
The final split was covered in 28.8 seconds.
The mile rate was 2:01.2 – the track record belongs to Sparkling Success at 1:58.7.
"To actually win it with this horse - he's achieved so much for us and we love him - it's a great thrill and makes up for the disappointment of last year.” Trainer Andy Gath said.
The husband and wife combination become the first dual winners of the Great Southern Star following their success with Glenferrie Typhoon back in 2017.
Gath has now prepared 12 Grand Circuit winners – a ratio of 3 pacing and nine trotting winners while Kate has driven 7 Grand Circuit winners, three with pacers and four with trotters.
The Great Southern Star commenced back in 2013.
The next leg of the 2019/20 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $100,000 Hygain Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Melton on February 29.
Tornado Valley joins Habibi Inta (Dominion) and Winterfell (Inter Dominion) as a winner on the Trotting Masters series this season.