The 30th anniversary of Brian Gath's only Inter Dominion success threatens to be far more memorable than the legendary Bendigo reinsman ever dared dream it could be.
Not only is the 63-year-old a legitimate chance to become only the second man to win both Inter Dominion finals in the same year, he is also in line to take out Saturday night’s other Group 1 event – the $150,000 Alabar Victoria Derby final.
Gath, who won the first Inter Dominion pacing grand final run at Moonee Valley aboard Markovina in 1978, will be behind leading contenders in both of this weekend’s Inter Dominion grand finals.
He will drive track record-breaking semi final winnerin the pacing division, while in the trotting final he maintains the drive on Viva La Fever, which he picked up on the eve of that gelding’s semi final success.
Just for good measure, Gath will also drive Maffioso, the winner of Saturday night’s opening Derby heat, in this weekend’s Group 1 final.
Gath couldn’t think of a better way of celebrating his maiden Inter Dominion success than with a Group 1 treble.
“The wheel certainly would have turned the full circle if we can do that, but it would be nice if it did happen,” he said.
“We don’t want to get too excited, though, because I want to make sure I do the job right. As long everything goes all right and I don’t muck up and the horses run a good race I’ll be pleased.”
Victory aboardand Viva La Fever would see Gath join John Langdon as the only driver to have won the Inter Dominion double in the same year. In 1975 Langdon won the pacing championship with Young Quinn and backed up to win the trotters’ section with Castleton’s Pride.
Gath, who also finished second aboard Franco Tiger (1992) and Shakamaker (2002) in Inter Dominion pacing grand finals, is only a chance of joining Langdon after picking up the drive on Viva La Fever a day before his stunning semi final success.
He was called off the interchange bench when Viva La Fever’s trainer, and regular driver, Ross Graham was forced to surrender the reins after suffering an adverse reaction to some antibiotics.
Graham, who is based just out of Bendigo at Sedgwick, is loath to take off a winning driver, meaning Gath will retain the drive this weekend.
“Poor Ross had an infected arm and he lives just down the road, so I was fortunate to get the drive on him,” Gath said. “It was lucky because he’s a good trotter and he’s coming right at the right time. He had a good trip Saturday night, but when he got out he really went to the line like he meant it.”
Gath will get a better indication of his Group 1 chances tomorrow when the barrier draws for both Inter Dominion finals and the Alabar Victoria Derby final take place at The Plaza Ballroom from 12.30pm.
Brad Bishop, HRV