Day At The Track

Elitloppet in the frame for Tornado Valley

11:34 PM 07 Jan 2019 NZDT
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Tornado Valley, harness racing
Tornado Valley - He’s 18 out of 22 since we got him in Australia and a couple of times he got beat we had a few excuses for,” Gath said

Big dreams are bubbling in Andy Gath’s harness racing stable as Tornado Valley’s Victorian domination lays the groundwork for a European tilt.

The seven-year-old Skyvalley gelding continued his winning ways with victory at Tabcorp Park Melton in Saturday night’s Aldebaran Park 2019 Maori Mile, stopping the clock in a 1:54.1 mile rate, just 0.2 of a second outside the record set by Sparkling Success last year.

Comparisons are noteworthy given Sparkling Success was set for a Yonkers campaign before injury cruelled John Meade’s trotter only days before he was about to head to New York, and now the international spotlight has fixed firmly on Tornado Valley.

The former Kiwi trotter has been linked with the May 26 Elitloppet in Sweden, contested last year by fellow Victorian Maori Time, and interest is building as briskly as the Group 1 wins are being notched.

Andy Gath told trots interviewer Paul Campbell he and Tornado Valley’s owner Norm Jenkin met with Harness Racing Australia chair Michael Taranto in the wake of Tornado Valley’s TAB Inter Dominion win.

“Probably before then we didn’t have a lot of interest, but since we sat down, spoke to Michael we are pretty keen,” Gath said.

“The timing of it’s perfect for him, because he’s not missing out on anything on this side of the world. We will get a few more big races and then sit down and work out which way we are going to go with him.

“If he comes through it good, we’d love to go. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a great opportunity.”

Principle among those “big races” is the January 26 Whatthehill Great Southern Star, the $250,000 trot that’s part of night one of the TAB Summer Of Glory.

It will be an opportunity for Tornado Valley to add to his four Group 1 wins since joining Gath’s stable in February, success that has continued with his present eight-race winning streak.

“He’s 18 out of 22 since we got him in Australia and a couple of times he got beat we had a few excuses for,” Gath said. “To keep getting the job done against quality opposition, it’s a great thrill to have a horse like him.”

Those qualities were on display Saturday night when he found the front with ease and controlled proceedings, winning by 1.3m from Gavin Lang’s Save Our Pennys.

“Obviously his gate speed’s such a great weapon and he used it again tonight. Such a beautifully gaited horse, he’s a pleasure to train, keeps winning these Group 1s and it’s lucky for us to have him.”

Tornado Valley’s potential European bid is music to the ears of Aldebaran Park principal Duncan McPherson, whose stud sponsored Bendigo’s showcase trot.

“A horse such as Tornado Valley can put Southern Hemispherical racing on the map around the world and follow in the footsteps of Maori Time and the opportunities offered to Sparkling Success,” Mr McPherson said.

“To think that in the space of 12 months potentially there are three international invitations to our trotters. They are starting to take our product down here as a serious threat on a global scale and I think it’s just absolutely wonderful.

“I’d love to see Tornado Valley take them on overseas, he’s got blinding gate speed and we saw that again tonight. That’s a weapon we should be able to use. The rest of the world was watching tonight and they were watching after the Inter Dominion. There are invitations there.”

Trots Media - Michael Howard

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