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Leaders King Of Swing and Tornado Valley survived bold challenges from the horses on their backs to respectively win Victoria's richest pacing and trotting races in tonight's TAB Summer Of Glory finale. King Of Swing claimed an eventful Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, with the emergency only getting a start in the race this morning before leading all-the-way to win the Group 1 $500,000 feature. And Tornado Valley made amends for last year's scratching from the What The Hill Great Southern Star to win the $250,000 trotting feature, holding off a bold challenge from Red Hot Tooth. Scroll below to relive all the action through the Live Blog. HOW DID YOU GO IN WEEK 3 OF TROTSTARS? CHECK NOW King Of Swing wins the Hunter Cup A drama-filled lead-in to the A. G Hunter Cup filed into a thrilling two-horse battle to the line, which would see the title claimed by a horse from the west who resides up north. King Of Swing, having initially been an emergency before gaining a start this morning, led from start to finish to win the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, surviving a bold challenge from Our Uncle Sam to salute by a half-head. It was a result that brought delight to many, including previous trainer and part-owner Gary Hall Snr, present trainer Craig Cross and reinsman Gary Hall Jnr, who leapt from bed this morning when he received the sweetest call of all. "Pretty surreal feeling,” Hall Jnr said post-win. “I went to bed last night without a drive in the race basically, didn't look like he was going to get a run, to get the phone call 5.30 in the morning saying you better get here. It's a rush trip but I was really happy to get the call.” As the day wore on the situation only got better for King Of Swing and connections. First off San Carlo’s scratching gave him a place in the race, then both gate one (stablemate Alta Orlando) and then gate two (Mach Shard) horses scratched, handing the one-time emergency the pole draw. Amid continual rain and a pegline dominance throughout the night it was advantage King Of Swing, and he comfortably held the lead and controlled proceedings inside breeze horse Triple Eight, with an 84.5-second lead time proceeding first and second quarters just a tick under 30 seconds. King Of Swing produced a 27.7-second third quarter to hold challengers at bay, but the favourite Chase Auckland loomed very likely at the final turn after reinswoman Natalie Rasmussen’s patience paid off and a gap appeared. But the All Stars' entrant’s advance halted short of challenging the leader and instead it was Our Uncle Sam threatening from leader’s back amid a 26.9-second final quarter. King Of Swing looked troubled but lifted to record a thrilling win for his connections. "I must say half-way down the straight I thought we were going to run a nice second, but like Luke (McCarthy) said, they seem to be able to get to his girth but it's the next half a length that they have trouble with,” Hall Jnr said. To watch the race click here. "This horse, it's no secret he's always had great ability. To win the Breeders (Crown) here and now come back and win a Hunter Cup, I'm pretty proud of the horse because I always knew he had that ability. It can be frustrating when you can't get them to put their best foot forward, so for him to get this on his resume is very pleasing.” It was also a thrill for Gary Hall Snr, who was among an ownership group who paid plenty for the former Ray Green-trained pacer and toiled manfully without much success in Western Australia, prompting the recent stable change to the east coast. "It's a great result,” Gary Hall Snr said. “I have been trying to win this race for over a decade. I had to give one to Luke McCarthy and Craig Cross to win it. "I'm over the moon, I'm rapt for Gary (Jnr) too - he's a great driver, one of the best around. It's just been a great night, fantastic, even the rain can't spoil it." 9PM: Tornado Valley wins the Great Southern Star It's been a long road to wrapping their hands on Victoria's biggest trophy again, but Andy and Kate Gath claimed a second What The Hill Great Southern Star win courtesy of Tornado Valley. The brilliant front-runner produced an 18th victory from as many races in the lead to claim the $250,000 Group 1, the richest trotting race in Australia. The victory means all the more after Tornado Valley had to be scratched from the 2019 edition when a commanding favourite and then had a rocky road into the 2020 edition, having erred in the lead-up in his last start and been forced to trial twice to be back in the draw. "This horse has got a wonderful CV, he was probably going to win this race last year but we had to scratch him on the eve of the race, which was disappointing," Andy said. "To actually win it with this horse - he's achieved so much for us and we love him - it's a great thrill." Tornado Valley looked in complete control throughout, sliding to the front ahead of polemarker Red Hot Tooth and experiencing little pressure throughout. A modest lead time and first and second quarters played into the leader's hands, though a little pepper was put into the race as Oscar Bonavena lobbed into the breeze. Tornado Valley followed a 27.9 third quarter with a 28.8 last 400 metres, and while it was enough to see off Mark Purdon's highly-rated trotter Red Hot Tooth loomed to potentially spoil the party for trainer Kari Males and reinswoman Kerryn Manning. Red Hot Tooth battled to the final post, but fell a short half-head shy of claiming the crown. To watch this race click here "The job he's done, you can't believe it," Kate Gath said of Tornado Valley. "Once again he keeps his unbeaten record in front. "He didn't win by much, I actually thought on the line Kez might have got me. It was pretty close there, over the moon to win the race again." 9.15PM: Sicario wins The Pure Steel  Off a terrific Inter Dominion campaign, in which he outshone most expectations to run seventh in the final, Sicario snapped up his first victory back on Australian soil. Reinsman Chris Alford guided Sicario down the sprint lane in the $30,000 Group 1, mowing down front-runner, the well-backed Bright Energy, to win for trainer Brent Lilley. 8.10PM: Sammy Showdown cruises to Group 3 win The rise and rise of Sammy Showdown reached a new level, producing a sixth victory in a row via the Group 3 DNR Logistics Vulcan Trotters Free For All. Continuing a tremendous run for trainer-driver and part-owner Kylie Sugars, Sammy Showdown had complete control of the race, cruising through more than 30 seconds for the first three quarters before putting her well-rated rivals to bed in a 27.5-second final sprint. "He just keeps stepping up and up and he keeps getting better and better," Sugars said. "He had to step up tonight and he's done that." She said the result was made all the more special by wearing the Team Teal silks, a fundraiser for ANZGOG, which sees Harness Racing Victoria and the TAB donate $200 for every female win from tonight. "It's super exciting ... to do it on a big night like this is really special, and I'm rapt to throw $200 into the kitty for the Women's Cancer Foundation as well." 7.45PM: Belle Of Montana wins the Pridemore's Electric Ladyship Cup On a difficult night for the Barry Purdon-Zac Butcher team, whose entrant Mach Shard was scratched from the Hunter Cup, there was more than a little delight in the Group 1 $100,000 Ladyship Cup, with their brilliant mare Belle Of Montana leading and narrowly holding off Bettor Enforce to win. While Belle Of Montana appeared to have it sown up rounding the bend, it got a little tight late but Butcher was always confident he had enough in hand. "I felt halfway up (the straight) like I had it pretty comfortably, I had to ask her for a little bit more at the finish and she gave it to me," he said. "It may not have looked pretty but it always felt like I had them covered." The Kiwi reinsman said it was a pleasing result amid a difficult night. "(Mach Shard's scratching's) a little disappointing, obviously it would have been great to be in the Hunter Cup, but (Belle Of Montana's) been my favourite horse for a while now, she's been pretty special too, so it's still a good day." Barry Purdon said Mach Shard had developed a foot abscess and was scratched by the vets after an on-course examination, which he said was "probably fair enough too, he just wasn't quite right". 7PM: Drama in the lead-up to the Hunter Cup Both the gate one (Alta Orlando) and gate two (Mach Shard) horses were scratched in the hours leading up to the Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, turning the race on its head. Sadly, stewards reported Alta Orlando sustained lacerations and abrasions to the head and neck and inflammation to the back area during travel to the course. A blow for reinsman Todd McCarthy, trainer Craig Cross and connections. Then in the following hour, scans of Mach Shard revealed the gelding to be lame and Barry Purdon's runner was also removed. Mark Purdon, trainer of favourite Chase Auckland who has shifted into Gate 2, told RSN Carnival "the scratchings changed the whole race completely". "Nat's got options (with Chase Auckland) from there," Purdon told Michael Guerin. "I don't think her intention will be to try and cross King Of Swing." HRV Trots Media - Michael Howard

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.   Chris Barsby

New Zealand rising superstar Oscar Bonavena opened $2.8 favourite immediately after the barrier draw tonight for the What The Hill Great Southern Star despite drawing outside of Inter Dominion champ Tornado Valley. The Mark Purdon-trained Oscar Bonavena pulled barrier four at the barrier draw, which was conducted at the MCG, with Andy Gath-trained Tornado Valley securing gate three. Purdon said Oscar Bonavena was underdone when he ran eighth first-up in Australia in last weekend's Dullard Cup. “He trained well this morning but going back to the run, when he came over, he’s got a couple of issues. We decided to do a bit of swimming and I don’t think he got enough out of it. He went into Saturday night a little bit short,” Purdon said. But this weekend will be a different story. Purdon was definitive.  “He trained great this morning and I’m sure we’ll see a fitter Oscar Bonavena this week," he said. “We’ll come out well but I don’t think you want to get into a speed duel early. He’ll cross to one off the markers and hopefully one out wide comes out with him and gives him cover, that’d be the best scenario. "But he’ll be back to full fitness by Saturday." Josh Dickie, who has picked up the drive aboard Gath-trained McLovin, said he was thrilled to be driving for such a respected trainer of trotters. “It's great to drive for Andy, I’m sure he’ll have the horse in good order and hopefully we have some luck," he said. “The first time I sat behind McLovin I was very impressed. I’d always seen him go well in Australia but sometimes it’s not until you drive them you think ‘he’s a bit better than I thought’. He gave me a lovely feel. It was a shame what happened to him at Auckland because I dare say Inter Dominion series would have been a bit different if he’d been 100 per cent." But Dickie said he had a lot of respect for Oscar Bonavena and in fact said the Kiwi was "no doubt our top trotter going forward".  “Oscar’s a special horse and with the wrap that’s been on him he’s probably been criticised a lot heavier than others would have been. He’s a four-year-old, so he’s a baby compared to the open-class trotters. From what I’ve seen and I’ve driven against him, his speed is phenomenal." Reigning Great Southern Star champ Dance Craze drew inside the back row in barrier eight, which could suit the powerful sit-sprinter, while noted on-pacer Red Hot Tooth was a big winner, snaring barrier one for trainer Kari Males.  Shortly after markets reopened following the draw Majestic Man was specked, $16 into $14.  Meanwhile, Caduceus Club MC and noted trotting form student Bill Hutchison said this line-up was possibly the "greatest trotting field" assembled in Australian history.  No driver has ever won two Great Southern Stars, but previous winners Kate Gath (who drove 2017 champion Glenferrie Typhoon) and Mark Purdon (who drove Dance Craze last year) look a good chance to break that tradition this year aboard Tornado Valley and Oscar Bonavena.  GoodForm's Blake Redden described Tornado Valley as "the best leader we've seen in the trotting ranks for many a year" and says the local is the "horse to beat". His full comments can be read below.   GoodForm analyst Blake Redden breaks down the What The Hill Great Southern Star chances runner-by-runner immediately post-barrier draw 1: Red Hot Tooth ($7 with TAB) This mare has the speed to kick through early and given she’ll likely sit on one of the favourite for the race, she’s a genuine knockout chance. 2: Massive Metro ($13 with TAB) Had an outstanding Inter Dominion in his homeland and he is pretty tough so he’s hard to discount despite the potentially tricky gate. 3: Tornado Valley ($3 with TAB) Arguably the best leader we’ve seen in the trotting ranks for many a year. He has the gate speed to lead and while he never wins by big margins, he’s the horse to beat. 4: Oscar Bonavena ($2.8 with TAB) Disappointing at his first Australian start but he has a huge boom on him. He should settle handy and clearly one of the horses to beat. 5: Sky Petite ($61 with TAB) Quality mare at her best but even with all her gate speed she’s unlikely to lead which makes it hard to see her winning. 6: Sundons Courage ($101 with TAB) This fella has come back in great form but he’s unlikely to lead from out wide which makes things tricky for him here. 7: Tough Monarch ($35 with TAB) Hard to know exactly how this bloke is going, he’s probably going to have to do work at some stage which is a tough ask in this type of race. 8: Dance Craze ($13 with TAB) The nation’s most exciting trotting mare is unlikely to be any closer than three poles in transit but if the gaps open she’ll be roaring home. 9: Margaret Ruth (EM) ($151 with TAB) Lovely mare who will enjoy the staying trip if she gets a run but this is as strong a race as she’s ever seen. 10: Majestic Man ($14 with TAB) Established himself through the New Zealand Inter Dominion series and in any other year he’d be in this up to his ears. In this edition he will need everything to go right. 11: Mclovin ($16 with TAB) Quality trotter at his best. He’ll need a few things to go his way from out the back and he’s probably stronger than he is quick which may not be suitable the way the draws have fallen. 12: Temporale ($7 with TAB) A good barrier wasn’t required for his stunning win last weekend but he will need some fortune from out here. 13: Wobelee ($31 with TAB) Total excitement machine who measured up at his first crack at this level at Ballarat. He’s out of the draw but if they run along in front he will produce a booming finish.   JASON BONNINGTON AND ADAM HAMILTON ARE JOINED BY MARK PURDON, CRAIG DEMMLER AND JOSH DICKIE: WATCH A REPLAY OF THE HUNTER CUP AND GREAT SOUTHERN STAR BARRIER DRAWS:   HRV Trots Media - Cody Winnell

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 harness racing 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. To watch the replay of this race click on this link. Chris Barsby

Victoria's most prolific trainer of trotters, Anton Golino, has won Australia’s richest trotting classic, the $250,000 Woodlands Great Southern Star, with a mare that pedigree buffs would say was always destined for harness racing greatness. Blueblood Dance Craze, a daughter of champion trotter and brilliant producer Muscle Hill out of another superstar performer in La Coocaracha, was a minute back in the run but sprinted furiously up the Tabcorp Park Melton straight at the end of the 2760m journey to capture the Group 1. The five-year-old raced clear of Kiwi star Temporale for a 1.4-metre win in a 1:58.8 mile rate, with Michael Stanley-trained Sky Petite backing up her TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final placing with another Classic podium finish tonight. Winning driver Mark Purdon was ecstatic to be involved with Golino’s greatest win thus far. “He does a great job and I’m thrilled to be involved with this win,” Purdon said. Golino was over the moon. “This is a dream come true,” he said before honouring his biggest backer Pat Driscoll and his passionate and hard-working team of staff. “He’s an amazing person and he deserves this more than anyone,” Golino said of Driscoll. The win gave Purdon a double Group 1 half-hour of power after he guided Dean Braun-trained mare Carlas Pixel to a barnstorming victory in the Schweppes Ladyship Cup. Of the rest, odds-on race favourite Marcoola only beat one runner home, finishing second last for Ken and Clint Ford, while Red Hot Tooth and Tough Monarch both performed strongly finishing fourth and fifth respectively. To watch the video click here. ID18 champ Tornado Valley was scratched from the GSS this morning when a long odds-on favourite. Trots Media - Cody Winnell

Pre-race favourite Tornado Valley has been withdrawn from tonight's Woodlands Great Southern Star after a vets examination revealed sorness on the morning of the $250,000 feature. Trainer Andy Gath reported his brilliant gelding, who has won 18 of 22 since crossing to their stable including December's TAB Inter Dominion, had swelling in his near hind-leg to Stewards on Friday. Tornado Valley then underwent a veterinary examination by the stable veterinarian Friday evening, where, in the presence of a HRV Steward, blood samples were taken from the gelding to detect whether infection may be a factor. This morning stewards reported the gelding had been found to be lame and sore upon examination and was subsequently scratched from tonight's feature. Read more here!   Trots Media

Clint Ford didn’t drive a winner last season.  So by his own standards the Canterbury part-timer is having a massive season, having reined home four winners this term, albeit all behind the same horse, trotting muscle man Marcoola.  So when Ford rolls onto Melton behind Marcoola for Saturday night’s A$250,000 Great Southern Star, with the Inter Dominion champion Tornado Valley holding all the ace against him, he could have every reason to be intimidated.  But Ford, who owns an excavation company and simply drives horses for the fun of it, has a plan. He just isn’t telling anybody what it is.  “Sure, Tornado Valley has all the advantages but we have the horse to give him a fright,” says Ford, who father Ken officially trains Marcoola. “He (Tornado Valley) has the gate speed, is on his home track, being trained out of his own stable whereas we have come all this way and probably have to give him a start to beat him.  “But our horse is well and we all know how good he can go. So we in are for the fight. And I have watched some videos of the opposition so I have a wee bit of a plan.” The best version of Marcoola, the one who demolished his Dominion rivals at Addington in November, would even have a chance of sitting parked outside Tornado Valley, at least for the last lap and beating him. But this whole travelling horses, driving against the Gavin Langs and Chris Alfords of the world thing, is a bit new to Ford.  So if Marcoola is going to prove he is the best trotter in Australasia he is going to have to do it the hard way.  The race also has fellow Kiwi trot stars Speeding Spur and Temporale (both poorly drawn) on a night with a huge New Zealand presence.  The most likely New Zealand winner is I’m Another Masterpiece, who is drawn to lead the A$200,000 Victoria Derby and should win.  And the Kiwi four-year-olds I’m Pats Delight and Spankem should dominate the A$100,000 Bonanza.  But the Steven Reid-trained pair of Star Galleria (Casey Classic) and Utmost Delight (A$100k Ladyship Cup) both face gate speed dilemmas in their respective races.  They are the best horses in their sprint events and while seemingly well draw they both have gate speed horses determined to lead drawn inside them. “I am really happy with where they are both at but one, or both, might have to sit parked to try and win,” admitted Reid.   by Michael Guerin    

ANDY Gath openly admits this is by far Tornado Valley’s biggest test. There’s no question the line-up Tornado Valley faces in Saturday night’s $250,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star is significantly strongly than the rivals he beat to snare the Inter Dominion crown last month at Melton. And that’s largely because of the presence of NZ’s best trotters, Marcoola. “Marcoola may simply be a better horse than Tornado Valley, at the very least I’d have to say he’s on par on what I’ve seen him do in NZ,” a frank Gath admitted. “He’s a seriously good trotter and when you throw in Temporale along with Speeding Spur, Tough Monarch and others, this is certainly the biggest test Tornado Valley’s had. “But we’re looking forward to it, especially now he’s drawn well. “I think he’ll lead, but we’re expecting pressure and I think he’s up to it. “We think he’s clearly better than Glenferrie Typhoon, who copped pressure all the way and still won a Great Southern Star. Tornado Valley is stronger and a much better racehorse.” But Gath admits to being surprised at how short Tornado Valley is in Aussie TAB markets at $1.50. “It’s hard to see why he should be shorter than the Inter Dominion when he’s only won his past two starts by a metre and this is such a stronger field,” he said. “If the best Marcoola turns up, I’m sure the fans are in for a fantastic contest and there’s certainly enough other really good horses in the race to come and beat us both if the race is run to suit them.” Gath sharpened-up Tornado Valley with a Melton trial on Tuesday. “We skipped the race at Ballarat last week and decided to go to the trial instead. He hit the line well and it’s right where we want him,” he said.   Adam Hamilton

Kiwi horseman Clint Ford was too angry to enjoy the fact his trotting star drew well in the A$250,000 Great Southern Star on Saturday.  Because he believes he and father Ken have been robbed of having two horses in the group one race at Melton on Saturday night and it is hard to argue with him.  Ford is the unofficial trainer and driver of Marcoola and took him to Australia for Saturday’s race along with stablemate Amaretto Sun.  But he was stunned on Tuesday morning when Harness Racing Victoria officials rang to inform him Amaretto Sun was only first emergency for the Great Southern Star and will need a scratching to make the field.  “I couldn’t believe it,” says Ford.  “I went online as soon as I could to look at what got in before him but the noms were taken down.  “But now I have seen the field I am sure he should be in there in front of at least three or four of the others.  “So I was pretty annoyed and all we can do now is hope for a scratching.”  Ford’s annoyance is understandable as 14 months ago Amaretto Sun won Australasia’s equal richest trotting race the Dominion at Addington, arguably the strongest trotting race in the Southern Hemisphere.  He suffered from soreness soon after and raced only twice more last season then struggled upon his return this season before bouncing back to form with a win in the Green Mile at Methven and more importantly a third in the group two Lyell Creek at Alexandra Park last.  But that has been rated inferior form to Victorian locals like Pizza Queen and Dance Craze, who have never won a major open class race, and while recent winners they were in inferior Victorian trot fields away from GSS favourite Tornado Valley and the Inter Dominions.  While Marcoola’s draw at barrier three for the Great Southern Star looks good the major problem is local champ and brilliant beginner Tornado Valley being drawn two, from where he looks a certain leader and clearly the horse to beat.  The news was a lot better for a host of other Kiwi reps, none more so than Another Masterpiece who looks to have the A$200,000 Victoria Derby at his mercy.  He has drawn to find the front and after an effortless heat win at Ballarat last Saturday is rated a $1.65 chance by Aussie bookies to win the classic.  Pat’s Delight has barrier two in the A$100,000 Bonanza, a big advantage over fellow NZ pacer Spankem, who has drawn the outside of the front line.  And Pukekohe trainer Steven Reid has fared well with Star Galleria (barrier three in the pacing free-for-all) and Utmost Delight (barrier four) in the A$100,000 Ladyship Cup.  Tony Herlihy, who will be at Melton to partner Temporale in the Great Southern Star, will drive Star Galleria while Greg Sugars has been engaged for Utmost Delight.   Michael Guerin

This is it….this is what we’ve been waiting for! The two best  trotters from either side of the ditch are coming head to head for the first time this season. Tornado Valley vs Marcoola. And the battle ground is TABCORP Park, Melton this Saturday night. Its leg three of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and as it stands, they sit equal at the top of the leaderboard following their respective victories in the Inter Dominion Grand Final and the Dominion. Both have collected 100 points to date. So the winner walks away with more than bragging rights. Who will take the Gr.1 $250,000 What The Hill Great Southern Star? Will it be Tornado Valley and his relentless hard running or will the sublime speed of Marcoola be on full display? And they will have a great view of each other early after drawing ideally off the front-line; they will start side by side in the 2760m mobile start event. The Andy and Kate Gath prepared Tornado Valley has landed gate two while the Ken and Clint Ford conditioned Marcoola starts to his immediate outside in gate three. The Gath’s combined with Glenferrie Typhoon who proved triumphant in 2017. Speedy Sydney prepared performer Tough Monarch has landed the coveted inside gate and looms as the knockout runner following his effortless last start victory at TABCORP Park, Menangle. Inter Dominion runner-up Sky Petite will start from gate four for trainer Mick Stanley and young driver Ryan Duffy; the speedy mare will carry plenty of support yet again. Outstanding young horseman Anton Golino prepares both Pizza Queen (gate 5) and Dance Craze (gate 13) and both will also have plenty of support owing to their consistent form. New Zealand stars Speeding Spur (gate 7) and Temporale (gate 12) are no strangers to success on Australian soil and both return with brilliant recent form, while the barrier draws aren’t kind they will certainly make their presence felt. Speeding Spur won the Great Southern Star back in 2016. Last start E B Cochran Cup winner Save Our Pennys (gate 8) represents father/son combination of Graeme and Gavin Lang and commands respects given his ultra-consistent form surge of late. Classy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate 9), a last start winner of the George Gath at Shepparton can only improve on effort from last season when finishing at the rear of the field, the Kari Males prepared mare is more seasoned and mature commodity and appeals as a knockout hope. Veteran performer Kyvalley Blur (gate 10) is also looking to improve on last year’s effort (10th behind Sparkling Success) and is drawn to follow out behind Marcoola, the Brent Lilley prepared gelding performed well at his most recent start in the George Gath behind Red Hot Tooth. Emerging talent Big Jack Hammer (gate 11) continues to thrive on racing in the elite company this season and although the draw is unkind, the David Aiken prepared gelding can’t be completely overlooked. With defending champion Sparkling Success absent owing to injury, the depth in the field this year is outstanding with total class spread across the field. Since conditions changed in 2017, Australian trained trotters have proved victorious but will that trend continue this year? What a contest…what a race! The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 9.00pm local time.   Chris Barsby  

The barriers draws have been staged for Saturday night's harness racing four BIG Group 1s at Tabcorp Park Melton, night two of the TAB Summer Of Glory, headlined by the Woodlands Stud NZ Great Southern Star and Victoria Derby. Get yourself trackside at Tabcorp Park for one of the great trots nights. Details: www.summerofglory.com.au Woodlands Great Southern Star Woodlands Stud Victoria Derby Ladyship Cup 4YO Bonanza Trots Media

The race trotting fans have craved is on, with Kiwi superstar Marcoola to take on Inter Dominion hero Tornado Valley.  The pair have dominated the trotting gait on either side of the Tasman this season, with Marcoola stunning in races like the Dominion, Lyell Creek and Flying Mile here before his surprise defeat after an early gallop in the National Trot at Alexandra Park on New Years Eve.  But that hasn’t deterred driver and unofficial co-trainer Clint Ford from heading to Australia to take on a rampant Tornado Valley in the A$300,000 Great Southern Star at Melton on January 26.  Ford will take Marcoola and Amaretto Sun, both trained by his father Ken, to Victoria for the GSS and possibly the $50,000 Dullard Cup the following Saturday.  Waiting for them both there will be Tornado Valley who was unbeaten during the Inter Dominion and brilliant trotting a 1:54.1 mile at Bendigo last Saturday.  Joining the pair in the Great Southern Star will be northern trotter Speeding Spur so the week of racing in Victoria could decide who the best trotter in Australasia is.  “I’m looking forward to getting over there and it will be fun to take on Tornado Valley,” said Ford, who will drive Marcoola himself.  Stable junior driver Sheree Tomlinson is likely to partner Amaretto Sun.  While the best version of Marcoola may be stronger than Tornado Valley the latter has stunning speed and most importantly gate speed, which could give him an advantage on his home ground. Marcoola and Amaretto Sun will fly to Sydney next Saturday and then road trip to Victoria.   Michael Guerin

The reigning Great Southern Star champion, Sparkling Success, has been invited to compete in the US $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway in New York on October 13 after resuming from a five month break at Maryborough this afternoon. The six-year old son of Great Success was issued the invitation by Yonkers Raceway’s Chief Operating Officer and Vice President Bob Galterio and the Racing Secretary Steve Starr and was immediately accepted by trainer John Meade. “I’m being realistic, I’m a dairy farmer from country Victoria taking on some of the best trainers in the world, some people would say I’m no chance of winning over there but what an opportunity this is going to be,” Meade said. “I’ve got nothing to lose, my wife Mary and I have decided to sell the cows and from the end of August we won’t have to worry about milking them anymore. “I’m not someone who can sit on my backside for long so I’ll concentrate on getting the farm right and train a few horses and what better way to spend the first few months of not having to worry about milking the cows by spending some time in the USA.” Sparkling Success is expected to leave Australia on September 15 and Meade will meet the gelding on arrival. “I haven’t travelled horses before so I have a lot of talking to other trainers to do, Brent Lilley is at Maryborough today so I’ll be having a chat to him about how he got Maori Time across to Sweden in such good condition. “I wouldn’t mind having a chat to Mark Purdon at some stage as well because he travels his horses quite a fair bit so hopefully I get the chance to bump into him between now and when I leave.” Meade confirmed the short term goal will be the Breeders Crown Trotters Graduate at Melton, a race he beat Maori Time in last year. “The Breeders Crown race would be nice to win again, he won it narrowly last year and it is on a couple of weeks before he leaves so it fits in nicely. “I am going to stay with Jonas Czernyson while I’m in New York, Duncan McPherson from Aldebaran Park has already made contact with me and offered to help me out which is great because I haven’t dealt with too many people in America before. “If everything goes to plan in the USA I might leave Sparkling Success there until Christmas, he needs to do five weeks quarantine before he can come back to Australia, so if I brought him home straight away after Yonkers he will miss the Inter Dominion anyway, I guess it all depends on how he is going, if he is racing competitively it makes sense to stay.” Harness Racing Australia Chief Executive Andrew Kelly believes the invitation was another step forward for Australian trotting. “To have Maori Time competing in the Elitloppet and now Sparkling Success invited to the International Trot in the same calendar year should be a clear indication how much the Australian trotting industry is respected on the world stage,” Kelly said. “On another issue it is great to see as soon as an opportunity like this arises, men with international experience like Aldebaran Park’s Duncan McPherson offering their assistance to John and Mary with Sparkling Success.” Greg Hayes

Sparkling Success has arrived. He’s well and truly announced himself. And he did it on the biggest stage possible, dominating his harness racing rivals in the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight (Saturday) – the second leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. In the biggest and richest square gaiting event staged in the country, the John Meade trained and Chris Svanosio driven trotter proved too classy for his rivals in the 2760m mobile start feature defeating New Zealand raider Temporale and Hey Yo in track record time. The six-year-old Great Success gelding proved his greatness with a hard fought victory in a time of 1:58.7, eclipsing the previous mark of 1:58.8 set by last year’s victor Glenferrie Typhoon. Boasting outstanding credentials, punters kept the local star safe in the market before an aggressive Svanosio drive landed the prize. Vincennes was able to spear to the lead from a wide draw and dictated terms while race favourite Red Hot Tooth was left without cover in the early stages. Sydney trotter On Thunder Road worked forward and took up the role on the outside of the leader while Sky Petite and Sparkling Success quickly made their moves. The lead time was covered in 84.2 seconds. With Vincennes leading, Sparkling Success eventually parked outside with 1400m approximately left to run. The first half of the final mile was covered in 30.5 and 30.2 seconds. Entering the back straight, Vincennes led Sparkling Success while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo gained economical trips against the pylons. Red Hot Tooth made a solo three-wide move with Daryl Boko tracking the move, both Speeding Spur and My Tribeca sat well back in the field as the tempo quickened. The third quarter was covered in 28.8 seconds. At the top of the home straight, Sparkling Success raced clear of Vincennes while The Boss Man, Temporale and Hey Yo all found room to move and loomed as legitimate threats. But Sparkling Success wouldn’t be denied and held Temporale by 1.2 metres with another 1.7 metres back to Hey Yo in third position. The final quarter was covered in 29.9 seconds. Race favourite Red Hot Tooth wilted to finish at the rear of the field. “This is unbelievable, he won the Maori Mile two starts ago but this race easily tops that, this is the biggest race on the calendar in Australia for trotters.” A jubilant John Meade declared, a dairy farmer from Cudgee in the state’s south-west. Sparkling Success boasts an outstanding record of 15 wins from 30 starts while his earnings now exceed $360,000. The next leg of the APG Trotting Masters takes place at Melton with the running of the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix on March 10. Sparkling Success now joins Dominion winner Amaretto Sun as the leg winners of the 2017/18 APG Trotting Masters to date. 6 9:00pm PRYDE'S EASIFEED GREAT SOUTHERN STAR (GROUP 1) 2760M $300,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 SPARKLING SUCCESS      Sr3 10 John Meade Chris Svanosio   $ 4.10   PRS PRU 3WM 2 SWAB   BAY GELDING 6 by GREAT SUCCESS USA out of DIAMOND INSITU (CR COMMANDO USA)  Owner(s): J F Meade, M B Meade  Breeder(s): J F Meade, M B Meade 2 TEMPORALE NZ      Sr1 8 Tony Herlihy Tony Herlihy 1.2m $ 5.70   PRS PRU 5 D/F$ 3 HEY YO NZ      Fr5 5 Sonya Smith Greg Sugars 2.9m $ 48.30   PRS 3WE RES 7 SWAB 4 THE BOSS MAN      Fr1 1 Ellen Tormey Ellen Tormey 7.3m $ 47.90   PRS PRU GS 3 5 MY TRIBECA ITA      Sr4 12 Anton Golino Nathan Jack 10.2m $ 35.20   PRS 8 HO HUE 6 VINCENNES      Fr7 7 Anton Golino Jason Lee 15.3m $ 79.30   PRS GS L 1 7 DARYL BOKO FIN      Fr2 2 Tim Butt Anthony Butt 17.6m $ 25.10   PRS W2 3WLT LW 8 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Sr5 13 John Dickie Josh Dickie 24.6m $ 6.30   PRS W3 3WLT LW 9 SKY PETITE      Sr2 9 Dean Pattison Michael Stanley 27.8m $ 56.70   PRS 3WM 4 10 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Fr6 6 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 30.2m $ 11.60   PRS RAS INC W4 3WLT 11 ON THUNDER ROAD NZ      Fr4 4 Darren Hancock Darren Hancock 57.3m $ 17.70   PRS 3WE 6 BUP SD1T 12 RED HOT TOOTH      Fr3 3 Kari Males Zac Phillips 77.2m $ 3.10 fav  PRS GS W1 3WL TIRE QUER VXAR SWAB WI Scratchings   FABRICATION 11 Track Rating: Gross Time: 3:23:6 Mile Rate: 1:58:7 Lead Time: 84.2 First Quarter: 30.5 Second Quarter: 30.2 Third Quarter: 28.8 Fourth Quarter: 29.9 Margins: 1.2m x 1.7m   Chris Barsby

Talk about neighbourly rivalry. The Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star, the biggest and richest harness racing event on the Australian trotting calendar, takes places this weekend at Tabcorp Park Melton and it will stir emotions. A Trans-Tasman clash between the best trotters currently available will take place over the staying distance of 2760m under mobile start conditions, it’s the second leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. And both sides of the ditch are well represented. The host nation possess are strong team loaded with great weaponry while the Kiwis are tried and true at the elite level, plus, they have the runs on the board. First staged in 2013, all winners have originated from the Shaky Isles while three of the winners were also prepared there but an Australian trained trotter proved victorious last year. Glenferrie Typhoon, prepared by the husband and wife team of Andy and Kate Gath, defied Auckland based performer Speeding Spur of back to back triumphs when he led throughout in track record time of 1:58.8. Initially modelled on Sweden’s universally revered Elitlopp, the Great Southern Star originally featured two Group 1 heats with a final all run on the same card before being drastically altered last year with the event becoming a straight out contest. Millionaire performer Keystone Del is the other Australian trained winner of the event when prepared by Nicole Molander while Vulcan, Stent and Speeding Spur have all tasted success for New Zealand based trainers. But the locals are ready for a title defence. Classy mare Red Hot Tooth (gate 3) will command plenty of respect following her last start romp in the George Gath at Shepparton two weeks ago while My Tribeca (gate 12) and Sparkling Success (gate 10) bounce out of last week’s E B Cochran Cup from Ballarat after their one/two finish. The Boss Man (gate 1), Hey Yo (gate 5), Vincennes (gate 7) and Sky Petite (gate 9) also represent the state of Victoria while quality Sydney trained trotter On Thunder Road (gate 4) will also have plenty of support. Both Daryl Boko (Finland) and Kyvalley Blur (North America) add that cosmopolitan flavour and both have excellent claims. Daryl Boko has drawn gate 2 while Kyvalley Blur has drawn gate 6. New Zealand trained performers are both from the north island with Temporale (gate 8) and Speeding Spur (gate 13) flying the Kiwi flag, both are well known to Australians fans owing to successful previous campaigns. Fabrication (gate 11) is the listed emergency for the event. The opening leg of the APG Trotting Masters was staged back in November during Cup week in Christchurch at Addington with the running of the Gr.1 $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion which was won by outsider Amaretto Sun. Only Daryl Boko and Hey Yo will contest the Great Southern Star after starting in the Dominion. The Great Southern Star is scheduled as race six and listed to start at 9.00pm local time. Chris Barsby

Former top Kiwi trainer Tim Butt expected to be a feature race player at Melbourne’s Summer of Glory, but just not with the horse it’s turned out to be. Before a minor setback late last year, the Hunter Cup was firmly on Butt’s radar with his stable star My Field Marshal. It was such a focus, he surprised many by turning his back on the Perth Inter Dominion series. But My Field Marshal was sidelined with a minor hoof injury and a limited lead-up preparation has Butt leaning towards skipping next Saturday night’s $500,000 Hunter Cup to focus on the Miracle Mile. So now Butt’s major Melbourne hopes rest with the talented but sometimes frustrating trotter Daryl Boko in this Saturday night’s $300,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star (2760m) at Melton. Although a $16 outsider, Daryl Boko has drawn well in gate two and heads into the race an impressive last-start winner, albeit in a much weaker race at Menangle. “He’s really heading into this race and draw is a huge help,” Butt said. “We think he’s a genuine upset chance now he’s drawn so well in a pretty open race.” Given the lack of a standout trotting superstar racing on either side of ditch right now, the opening Aussie market for the Great Southern Star was $4 the field. But emerging Aussie mare Red Hot Tooth has been sensationally-backed into clear favouritism for Australasia’s richest trotting race. The Kari Males-trained mare has been crunched in from $5 to $2.70 favouritism after her sparkling last-start Group 1 George Gath win at Shepparton. Although this is clearly the next step-up against such a hot field over the longer 2760m trip and against genuine Group 1 opposition, but she did rip home in a 56.6sec last half last outing and looks the leader again this time. “I might be biased, but I think she’s the better trotter in the land right now and she gets the chance to prove it,” Red Hot Tooth’s driver Zac Phillips said. “She’s got speed, she can stay and she absolutely bolted in last time. “I was saying on radio the other day, it’s a good time to have a really nice trotter like because there isn’t a champion winning everything like say a Keystone Del was here a couple of years back.” For Phillips, teaming-up with Males and her husband Paul, makes it extra special. “Kari and Paul, along with Robbie O’Connell were the people who got me going. To win a really big Group 1 for Kari and Paul would be as good as it gets,” he said. “I can’t wait for Saturday night to give it our best shot.” Another emerging Aussie trotter Sparkling Success has eased from $4 to $4.60 second elect from gate 11. Kyvalley Blur, back from his ultra-consistent Kiwi campaign shares the line of betting with Tony Herlihy’s Temporale at $6.50. Temporale’s chances were hurt by an inside back row draw (gate eight), negating his sparkling gate speed. The other class Kiwi raider, Speeding Spur, is the best-credentialed runner in the race, but drawn outside the back row (gate 13) and under a form cloud given his recent Kiwi defeats. He is a $6.50 chance. Back to My Field Marshal and Butt said a final Hunter Cup decision would be made on Monday. “It’s unlikely, but we want to watch this weekend’s racing and wait as long as possible to see if Lazarus is definitely running,” he said. In other stable news, classy four-year-old Let It Ride will have another crack at forcing his way into the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Saturday week. He ran way below his best when, after a midrace burn to find the lead, he wilted to finish at the rear of the field in last Saturday night’s Hondo Grattan at Menangle. “He checked-out fine after the race,” Butt said. “He was a bit disappointing, but he did burn a bit so we’ll give him another chance next week.” Adam Hamilton

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