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When Tornado Valley NZ and Sky Petite crossed the line first in the harness racing Inter Dominion Trotting Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night it gave their sire Skyvalley a well needed huge boost for the Australasian breeding Industry. Well under patronized at stud by breeders in New Zealand and Australia this sensationally bred stallion Skyvalley gave notice that he has all the credentials to become a top end commercial sire.  With only 135 foals of racing age from his first five crops in Australia and 53 foals of racing age in New Zealand Skyvalley is the sire of 65 winners to date with $2,859,599 in progeny earnings total for both Countries.  Tornado Valley became Skyvalley's richest earner to date with the Inter Dominion Final giving him lifetime earnings of $412,887. The Inter Dominion Final also catapulted Sky Petite to become his second richest earner to date with $237,785 in the bank. These two earners are followed by Aldebaron Eve with $158,508 and then Blue Sky Commander NZ with $136,913. Tornado Valley NZ and Sky Petite Skyvalley NZ is unquestionably one of the best bred and best performed harness racing trotters ever to stand at stud in Australia From 47 starts he won 24 and was 13 times placed for $322,675 in stakes. He won six races at Group level and was placed a further three times and established three national records. A dual winner as a two-year-old, Skyvalley announced himself as the next big thing in Australian trotting when he trounced his rivals by 15 metres in the final of the $102,000 Breeders Crown for three-year-olds at Bendigo, rating a brilliant 1:59 for the 2150 metres - an all age Australian record. Skyvalley NZ really came into his own as a four-year-old winning 14 races, the most by any standardbred in Australia that season. His wins included the 4YO Breeders Crown (by 32 metres), demolishing his opposition with Dan Mielicki describing it as the best win by any horse that season, drawing comparisons to the great Maori's Idol by many who witnessed his thrashing of his rivals that day. He won the Melton Trotters Cup on Tabcorp Park opening day beating the best open age free-for-all horses over the 2760 metre journey, running his last mile in 2:01. He also won the Cobram Trotters Cup and several metropolitan free-for-alls. One of his memorable wins as a five-year-old was the Bill Collins Sprint over 1720 metres at Grand Curcuit level in a track record 1:56.4, beating Sundons Gift NZ, and wearing no shoes, such was his impeccable gait and manners. At the same age he won the Scotch Notch Memorial at Tabcorp Park and the Freestone Trotters Cup at Moonee Valley. He also finished third in the Inter Dominion Grand Final after an injury interrupted campaign. Skyvalley winning The Breeders Crown for Four-year-olds Skyvalley NZ is a rare individual who took your breath away with some of his feats on the racetrack. Champion horseman Chris Lang, who trained him throughout his career, said: "Having the privilege of training some of the best trotters of our generation, there is no doubt he was the one who could leave you breathless. To sit behind him was like sitting in a sled, such was the fluency of his gait. His stride was like no other horse I have ever seen. He never needed shoes and only ever wore aluminiums when he did." "He was ahead of his time and I believe represents the future of breeding in this part of the world," Lang stated. Skyvalley is a son of the world No.1 sire in Muscles Yankee 1:52.4, leading living sire of juvenile and all aged trotters in North America. Muscles Yankee has sired the winners of over $100 million in stakes and at this stage is credited with 139 on the 1:55 list. In the Southern Hemisphere Muscles Yankee USA is best represented by 2011 and 2012 Inter Dominion Champion I Can Doosit NZ. Muscles Yankee is also credited with producing the worlds best current trotting stallion Muscle Hill who is completely dominating the breeding scene throughout the world today. On his distaff side he can claim equal distinctions. He is a half-brother to a champion trotting mare in Allegro Agitato NZ Tr 1:57.8 ($529,854), a multiple winner at Group 1 level in New Zealand and Australia and herself being sired by Sundon USA, proving that crossing with Sundon USA mares will undoubtedly work. Their dam, Chiola's Lass NZ Tr 2:04 ($157,779), was two-year-old and three-year-old trotter of the year in New Zealand and is one of the leading daughters of a champion trotting sire in Chiola Hanover USA. She won 10 of her 17 starts including the Victoria Oaks, NZ Great Northern Derby and The Holmfield and was voted the NZ Trotter of the Year at 2 and 3. Harnesslink Media

Tiger Tara’s TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Championship win at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night capped an extraordinary year for harness racing trainer Kevin Pizzuto and his family. In August the New South Wales horseman was involved in a serious road accident, which could have cost him and his horses their lives. Aboard the float that day were Tiger Tara and three stablemates, with Pizzuto in the driver’s seat. Another driver ran through a stop sign and a collision was unavoidable. The resultant impact fractured the horseman’s sternum and ribs, tore his ligaments in both arms as the steering wheel shattered in two, and left him with hidden scars every time he thought of taking the road again. But bloodied and broken that day, Pizzuto’s thoughts were only on his horses. “My driver came and got the horses which I’d gotten off the float … and then I went to hospital,” Pizzuto said. “He (Tiger Tara) was lying down up the front of the float and I thought he’d broken his back. I was shattered. I had blood coming out everywhere, but when he got up, my heart, yeah ... just relief.” Two months after the accident Tiger Tara pummelled his rivals in the Group 1 Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup. Then, in November he produced one of the gutsiest runner-up efforts in modern times when second in the Group 1 New Zealand Cup. “I’ve always said he’s the toughest horse in the land… I knew he was good, but last night, that was something else,” Pizzuto said of the ID18 win. “I’ve had him better than I’ve ever had him, this prep. We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve pulled ourselves up and that was amazing.” Tiger Tara, with gun reinsman Todd McCarthy aboard, took up the front-running role early in Saturday night’s Grand Circuit decider and went on to break rivals’ hearts off the back with an unforgettable 26.3secs third quarter. The son of Bettors Delight got up the lane in 27.9 to rate 1:53.9 over the 2760m trip, McCarthy’s winning salute encapsulating the glory in a snap. And the final twist, Pizzuto’s daughter Courtney accepted Mikey Hawli’s marriage proposal on track in front of the huge crowd after the victory. Courtney said yes, and so did Kev. “He had to ask me first,” Pizzuto said. “The horses were scoring up... I was praying we’d win after that. He’s a good bloke and a hard worker.” Trots Media - Cody Winnell   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

TIGER ROARS TO VICTORY IN TRACK RECORD TIME Sydneysider Tiger Tara was a brilliant victor of the $500,000 (Group 1) 2018 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Championship Grand Final over 2760 metres at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night, winning by a 14.4 metre margin in advance of roughie Our Uncle Sam, Cruz  Bromac and Spankem in a mile rate of 1-53.9 which took .2 seconds off Lazarus’ 1-54.9 established last year. Trained to perfection by Kevin Pizzuto at Rossmore, Tiger Tara with regular reinsman Todd McCarthy aboard, began with a wing on every foot from outside the front line to cross outsider Mach Doro (gate four) which had speared past polemarker Galactic Star as the starter released the field. Galactic Star was to gallop on the first turn causing inconvenience to Im Pats Delight (gate three} which allowed Mattie Craven (gate two) to angle to the back of Mach Doro and San Carlo to shift off the inside to park in the open giving Im Pats Delight one/one cover. The highly fancied “All Stars” stablemates Spankem (gate five) and Cruz Bromac (gate two on the second line) settled three and four back in the moving line, with Cruz Bromac momentarily moving three wide before easing back to trail Spankem. Once the speed slackened, Gavin Lang sent Im Pats Delight forward to park in the open, with Bec Bartley shortly after sending San Carlo forward to face the breeze. The order remained the same until the bell when Mark Purdon and Spankem eased three wide to start a forward move, with Natalie Rasmussen (Cruz Bromac) immediately latching to his back for a sweet ride home and Our Uncle Sam  (one/three) trailing the pair. Given full rein prior to the home turn, Tiger Tara bounded away with Spankem and Cruz Bromac giving chase as San Carlo started to give ground with Im Pats Delight again being hampered. Well clear on straightening, Tiger Tara simply toyed with his rivals, with Our Uncle Sam giving Anthony Frisby the “thrill of a lifetime” by running into second place, Cruz Bromac third, Spanken fourth and Im Pats Delight a game fifth after not enjoying any luck at all after copping more cheques than a bank teller. In quarters of 30.1, 28.7, 26.3 and 27.9 for the last mile, Tiger Tara ran his rivals ragged, prompting Kevin Pizzuto who was lost for words to comment after the race how this horse is “unbelievable”. A 8Y0 entire by Bettors Delight from the Dream Away mare Tara Gold, Tiger Tara must have a wonderful constitution after this season being involved in a horrific car accident which tipped the float over threatening his racing career, before travelling to Victoria to claim the Victoria Cup, then heading across the Tasman to finish a nose second in the New Zealand Cup to Thefixer after racing exposed prior to the ID campaign which saw him win one heat with two placings. For Todd McCarthy who has developed into one of Australia’s top reinsmen, the victory gave him without doubt his biggest moment in harness racing. Raced by the Pizzuto family and M. Hawli, Tiger Tara has fronted the starter 99 times for 31 wins and 37 placings for stake earnings in excess of $1,960,000. THE TROTTERS  Most were of the opinion that the 2760 metre $150,000 (Group 1) ID Trotters Grand Final would be taken out by Andy and Kate Gath’s star Kiwi bred 7Y0 Skyvalley-Begin gelding Tornado Valley (gate six) unbeaten through the heats, or John Dickie’s North Islander Speeding Spur due to the fact that he came up with the coveted pole line draw, but it was Tornado Hanover to continue on his winning way. Raced by long time stable client – Queensland developer Norm Jenkin who has raced among others duel New Zealand Cup winner Flashing Red, Tornado Valley began at 100 miles an hour to lead running into the first turn, with Speeding Spur unable to match him settling in the trail. Big Jack Hammer (gate five) in the open and Save Our Pennys (gate three) one/one being trailed by Tough Monarch quickly away from inside the second line and Kyvalley Blur (gate three on the second line). Monty Python (gate two) possied three back the markers with Rompers Monarchy following him. While Sky Petite after starting outside the front line had no option but to go back to the rear of the field. Always travelling well within himself, Tornado Valley never ever looked in any danger, scoring easily by 10 metres from Sky Petite (three wide solo last lap) from the tail which ran the race of her life for Ryan Duffy and Mick Stanley, with Speeding Spur a disappointing third 8.6 metres away. Monty Python was fourth and Save Our Pennys fifth. In quarters of 30.3, 29.5, 29.1 and 28.4 for the last mile, Tornado Valley returned a mile rate of 1-59.5. It was Tornado Valley’s 24th success in 78 outings which include 23 placings for stakes of $412,887. Harness Racing Australia

Having knocked on the door and been brave so often Tiger Tara bashed it down with a barnstorming victory in the 2018 TAB Pacing Inter Dominion Championship. A take-no-prisoners Todd McCarthy drive shot Kevin Pizzuto’s pacer to the lead in the early stages and with a 26.2-second third quarter and a track record smashing 1:53.9 mile rate he broke their hearts to salute in style. After an enormous campaign that stretches back to October’s Pryde’s EasiFeed Victoria Cup win and a brave second in the New Zealand Trotting Cup, McCarthy and Tiger Tara got the one they wanted: the $500,000 Group 1. “I think it’s going to take a while to sink in but at the moment it’s unbelievable,” McCarthy said. “They are sensational these nights. The crowd is amazing, just an unbelievable atmosphere. To be able to win these sorts of races is something you dream about as a kid, to be able to come here and do it tonight is pretty special.” After enormous consternation surrounded race tactics during the week the game plan was thrown out when Mach Doro crossed to the lead in the early stages before handing up to Tiger Tara. Victorian hope San Carlo emerged from the pegs and would punch the breeze for much of the running, but the favoured All Stars pair Spankem and Cruz Bromac wouldn’t emerge to make their challenge until the final lap. With a blistering third quarter of the final mile Tiger Tara found separation and that was all she wrote, saluting by 14.4m from a fantastic Our Uncle Sam with Spankem and Cruz Bromac filling out the first four. But the night belonged to one. “He felt really good,” McCarthy said. “He got a bit of a breather nice and early there and I knew it was going to be on in the last three quarters. He felt good down the back straight and I thought it was time to go and if we were good enough we’d be good enough. It worked out terrific, he’s such a gutsy horse and I’m so lucky to drive him.”   Michael Howard Trots Media 8 9:45pm TAB INTER DOMINION PACING CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND FINAL (GROUP 1) 2760M $500,000 M0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TIGER TARA NZ      Fr7 7 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy   $ 6.00   PRS GS L 1 SWAB ST HT NTR D/S D/F   BAY HORSE 8 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of TARA GOLD (NZ) (DREAM AWAY USA)  Owner(s): M Hawli, C L Pizzuto, K J Pizzuto, T N Pizzuto  Breeder(s): R P (Raymond) Anicich 2 OUR UNCLE SAM      Sr3 10 Chris Frisby Anthony Frisby 14.4m $ 34.50   PRS PRU W3 SWAB ST HT 3 CRUZ BROMAC NZ      Sr2 9 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen 15.8m $ 4.00   PRS T/F W2 3WLT SWAB ST HT 4 SPANKEM NZ      Fr5 5 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Mark Purdon 18.6m $ 3.50 fav  PRS 3WL W1 5 IM PATS DELIGHT NZ      Fr3 3 Cran Dalgety Gavin Lang 23.5m $ 5.80   PRS 4 INC SCT 6 GALACTIC STAR NZ      Fr1 1 G F J Bond, S A Bond Ryan Warwick 24.4m $ 8.00   PRS GS CB RES 6 7 CANT REFUSE NZ      Fr2 2 Matthew Craven Matthew Craven 24.6m $ 98.10   PRS PRU 5 HUE USL 8 CASH N FLOW NZ      Sr5 13 Craig Cross John Caldow 25.4m $ 179.00   PRS PRU 7 HUE 9 WRAPPERS DELIGHT      Sr4 11 David Aiken Kima Frenning 26.3m $ 49.30   PRS SCT 6 10 SAN CARLO      Sr1 8 Stephen O'Donoghue Rebecca Bartley 28.3m $ 9.50   PRS PRU CTS D/F 3WM 2 QUER VXAR SCOPE 11 MACH DORO      Fr4 4 Craig Cross Luke McCarthy 35.8m $ 176.00   PRS GS L SLE 3 CMP 12 MAXIMAN NZ      Fr6 6 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 70.7m $ 124.00   PRS RES CTS PH 10 TIRE QUER VXAR SCOPE Scratchings   AUDI HARE NZ 12 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:15:3 Mile Rate: 1:53:9 Lead Time: 82.3 First Quarter: 30.1 Second Quarter: 28.7 Third Quarter: 26.3 Fourth Quarter: 27.9 Margins: 14.4m x 1.4m  

A blistering beginning and brave finish saw Tornado Valley capture the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship in the hands of reinswoman Kate Gath, who became the first female to salute in the great race. Long Forrest trainer Andy Gath and Kate, his wife, again proved a formidable force in Australasian racing with a thrilling victory by a neck from surprise packet Sky Petite, saluting in front of packed stands at Tabcorp Park Melton. “To win the Inter Dominion tonight blows my mind. It’s the race everyone wants to win and I’ve won one,” Kate said. “I can’t believe how lucky I am in my career to win the races I’ve won. It’s astonishing.” Andy said the pair had “been fortunate to have a lot of good horses win a lot of big races but to win an Inter Dominion is the ultimate”. “We just love this horse, he just knows how to win and we are very fortunate to have him in our stable.” Kate flew the gates from her widest front row draw and found the front after 300m, pocketing the second favourite and well-fancied Kiwi Speeding Spur. It would be the critical move, with Tornado Valley in control out in front as they notched a moderate lead time into a 30.2 first quarter. The challenges threatened in the running line, first Save Our Pennys, then Tough Monarch, but Tornado Valley saw them all off. At the turn it was Sky Petite who emerged from three-wide and loomed next to Tornado Valley, fighting on brilliantly before losing by only a neck in the hands of talented young reinsman Ryan Duffy for trainer Michael Stanley. But it was to be Tornado Valley and Kate Gath’s night. “Leading early was that little bit of luck we needed to be hard to beat and once we led I was happy, but I burned really hard to lead,” Kate said. “I came out pretty aggressively to get him across. Everything fell into place and I’m pretty lucky.”     Michael Howard Trots Media     7 9:08pm TAB INTER DOMINION TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND FINAL (GROUP 1) 2760M $150,000 TM0 Or Better. RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments  1 TORNADO VALLEY NZ      Fr6 6 Andy Gath Kate Gath   $ 1.70 fav  PRS GS L 1 PH SWAB ST HT   BAY GELDING 7 by SKYVALLEY NZ out of BEGIN (NZ) ()  Owner(s): N R (Norm) Jenkin  Breeder(s): P L Gaugler, T M McMillan 2 SKY PETITE      Fr7 7 Michael Stanley Ryan Duffy NK $ 104.00   PRS T/F RAS 12 3WL SWAB ST HT D/S D/F 3 SPEEDING SPUR NZ      Fr1 1 J W Dickie, J I Dickie Josh Dickie 9.60 $ 3.00   PRS GS 3 SWAB ST HT 4 MONTY PYTHON NZ      Fr2 2 Phil Williamson Anthony Butt 9.80 $ 46.70   PRS PRU 5 5 SAVE OUR PENNYS      Fr3 3 Graeme Lang Gavin Lang 10.20 $ 14.30   PRS GS 3WE 4 6 WILMAS MATE NZ      Sr4 12 Tim Butt John Caldow 15.50 $ 140.00   PRS 10 7 ROMPERS MONARCHY NZ      Fr4 4 J A Rando, M J Rando David Morris 15.90 $ 201.00   PRS 7 HI CMP 8 KYVALLEY BLUR USA      Sr3 11 Brent Lilley Chris Alford 16.60 $ 13.00   PRS PRU 8 QUER VXAR SCOPE 9 RED HOT TOOTH      Sr5 13 Kari Males Zac Phillips 21.70 $ 121.00   PRS PRU RES 11 10 BIG JACK HAMMER      Fr5 5 David Aiken Kima Frenning 24.60 $ 34.80   PRS PRU GS 6 11 KINGDOM COME NZ      Sr2 10 Andy Gath Alex Ashwood 24.80 $ 166.00   PRS 9 12 TOUGH MONARCH      Sr1 9 Rickie Alchin Rickie Alchin 29.50 $ 19.80   PRS 3WM 2 QUER VXAR SCOPE Scratchings   ILLAWONG ARMSTRONG 8 Track Rating: GOOD Gross Time: 3:24:9 Mile Rate: 1:59:5 Lead Time: 87.6 First Quarter: 30.3 Second Quarter: 29.5 Third Quarter: 29.1 Fourth Quarter: 28.4 Margins: 1.0m x 8.6m  

It was a day in August that harness racing Kevin Pizzuto will never forget – the day he thought his Inter Dominion dream for Tiger Tara was over. The owner-trainer was taking his star with a couple of other horses to work at Bankstown from his Leppington base when  another car went through a stop sign. “A lady pulled out in front of me, going straight through a stop sign. I t-boned her and the truck smashed into two trees,” Pizzuto said. “I’m still trying to get over it . . . I’m really scared of driving. I’m still scared on the road at the moment. To read the full story in the Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.

It has taken John Caldow more than 30 years – and 26,215 races – to land an Inter Dominion final drive. After tomorrow night the veteran Melton reinsman will have driven in two. Caldow will pilot Wilmas Mate in the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final at Tabcorp Park just after 9pm before taking the reins behind Cash N Flow in the pacers’ final at 9.45pm. Wilmas Mate (gate 12) and Cash N Flow (gate 13) have copped horror draws, but bad luck hasn’t dampened Caldow’s mood. “I have been to a lot of the Inter Dominions; if I haven’t been there I have certainly been watching them,” Caldow said. “It is a race everyone wants to win, unfortunately we have drawn bad but it is nice to be in it anyway.” Caldow said he was expecting the finals to be intriguing affairs, especially the pacers. “I think it is going to be a great race; the one (Galactic Star) will hold up for starters and who he decides to hand up (the lead) to, or whether he decides to (hand up) or not, will be interesting,” he said. “The draw has brought everyone in with a winning chance so there is going to be a lot of moves for that reason. “Gavin (Lang) has drawn 3 (on Im Pats Delight) and he will be going forward. The speed will be on early with everyone looking for their positions." Caldow said he would “be out the back watching it all unfold”. “I imagine I will be going the short cuts and seeing what happens. I need them to go mad to give him any possible chance, especially early,” he said. In the trotters’ final, Caldow said he expected Speeding Spur to make favourite Tornado Spur’s bid for the lead harder than he had been accustomed to in the heats. “I am sure the one (Speeding Spur) will get out a lot quicker this time after getting crossed at Ballarat and they will be going hard,” he said. “Wilmas Mate is going OK, she seems to be getting better with each race. (We’ll) need it to be a true, good staying race to give her any chance whatsoever.” Caldow, who has driven more than 100 winners in a season on 20 occasions, said ID18 was only the second Inter Dominion he had been involved in. “I won a heat in Perth (in 2004) with Mister D G and we had Nolarama in the (same) series,” he said. “But I have never driven in a final so I am looking forward to it.”   Shaun Campbell

Trainer John Dickie is full of honesty and hope heading into the A$150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final with Speeding Spur. Because while the Kiwi trainer is honest enough to admit his millionaire trotter may have lost his sheer speed, he is also hopeful his stamina may snare him one of the most important races of Dickie's career. Dickie trains the now seven-year-old with his son Josh and after two wins in his three heats of the series Speeding Spur is the clear second favourite for the 2760m mobile at Melton on Saturday night. He has the advantage of the ace and at his peak of two or three years ago would be a dominant favourite but that honour instead lies with Tornado Valley, who was unbeaten in his heats. Dickie admits that is fair. "On their form in this series Tornado Valley has looked the best horse. "But that doesn't mean we can't beat him," says Dickie. "He is faster than us, which is how he beat us in the sprint heat at Ballarat last week. "Our fella doesn't have that sub-27 second quarter (400m) in him like he used to and that makes it hard to beat Tornado Valley. "But the distance and the draw helps us. "If we can hold the lead Josh (driver) will have options." The most logical of those would be making Tornado Valley work to get the lead and hope he gets fired up and leaves himself vulnerable at the end of a hard 2760m for Speeding Spur to grab him. He used those tactics against another speedier rival in Enghien in the Rowe Cup last April, handing up in the middle stages when many would have expected Speeding Spur to stay in front. After a long, brave career punctuated by at least two serious injuries Speeding Spur may simply not be as sharp as he used to be but he looks certain to get his shot on Saturday night if he is good enough. "But to do that we have to hold the lead early, so that will be Josh's first job." The Dickie family has been involved with elite level trotters for decades so the reinstatement of the trotting Inter Dominion after a six year hiatus is a huge deal for them. "To me the two biggest races in Australasia are the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominions. "Sure I would like it to be worth more money but if we win on Saturday night that won't bother us because I have wanted to win the Inter since I started training." Speeding Spur is the $3.30 second favourite behind Tornado Valley while in Saturday night's A$500,000 pacing final the money has come for Cruz Bromac, who has been the shortener on both sides of the Tasman, slightly pushing out the prices of fellow Kiwi favourites Spankem and Im Pats Delight. Michael Guerin

The last time an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final was staged, it was 2012. It was staged in Melbourne at TABCORP Park, Melton. And the Kiwi’s got ‘Lucky” when brilliant squaregaiter I Can Doosit proved triumphant for champion horseman Mark Purdon. In fact, it was New Zealand domination with the first four placegetters all hailing from the Shaky Isles. Now, the Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final returns to the feature race calendar and again, it will be staged in the garden state. The Gr.1 $150,000 TAB Inter Dominion Trotters Grand Final is the second leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters and takes place this Saturday night. While the Kiwi’s are well represented, the locals hold the whip hand through the Andy and Kate Gath prepared Tornado Valley. Bred in New Zealand and raced by Queensland based Norm Jenkin, the Skyvalley gelding has been a revelation since being under the tutelage of the Gath couple. A clean sweep of his three heats has him listed as the punters elect and he’s hoping to join I Can Doosit who swept the 2012 series. But back in 2012, there was only two heats and a final. Throughout this year’s series, Tornado Valley has looked as safe as a bank with the only concern coming last weekend in his final heat after his hind leg bandage starting to unravel with 300m left to run. As it turned out, the star trotter never missed a beat. A winner of 16 of his 20 starts on Australian soil, Tornado Valley will start from gate six in the 2760m mobile start feature while his main danger, New Zealand star Speeding Spur has drawn the ace. Having met in the second round at Ballarat, Tornado Valley took glory with his all the way victory over his Kiwi rival. Interestingly, Tornado Valley led Speeding Spur in that event despite drawing on his outside. But Speeding Spur is a high quality performer, a trotter that is no stranger to the big stage. And his record at Melton underlines his class, with four wins from eight starts including features and excellent form throughout the series, it shapes as a classic Trans-Tasman battle. The stunning looking entire won two of his three heats while placed behind Tornado Valley in the other and the John and Josh Dickie prepared gun is looking to crack the million dollar mark if successful this weekend. While Tornado Valley and Speeding Spur have hogged the limelight throughout the series, several others are looking to take centre stage including several locally trained performers. And most have strong Inter Dominion connections. Legendary father/son combination of Graeme and Gavin Lang will combine with in-form trotter Save Our Pennys, a runner-up in all three heats throughout the series. Both Graeme and Gavin know what’s required to score an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final, they have five trophies combined. Back in 2012, they combined with Save A Sixpence who finshed 6th behind I Can Doosit. Save Our Pennys will start from gate three. Over the past 45 years, the name Lang has been synonomous with Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Finals. Astute horseman David Aiken is looking for success with the talented Big Jack Hammer, a runner-up in his past two heats. Again, the rising star will be handled by Kima Frenning and will start from gate five. While Aiken has lofted an Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final trophy, his best finish in a Trotting Grand Final is 5th (twice) with Twebby Twotter (2002) and Im Dejazzman (2012). Richly talented young horsemen Mick Stanley and Ryan Duffy are looking for their piece of history with the talented Sky Petite, but the mare will need to overcome gate seven. Former New Zealand horseman Brent Lilley is chasing his second Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final after scoring back in 2002 at Harold Park with Game Bid. Representing his stable is the North American bred evergreen Kyvalley Blur, the 11-year-old gelding will start from gate eleven. Kyvalley Blur scored a stylish heat victory in the second round of heats at Ballarat and will again be handled by champion reinsman Chris Alford. Speedy mare Red Hot Tooth is looking to provide Kari Males and Zac Phillips with their biggest triumph but face a massive challenge after landing gate thirteen. The Yankee Paco mare was placed behind Tornado Valley and Save Our Pennys in her final heat last week at Cranbourne. Andy Gath is duly represented in the final with Kingdom Come lining-up from gate ten, young Alex Ashwood will take the drive. The state of New South Wales will have a triple threat through the deeds of Rompers Monarchy (gate four), Tough Monarch (gate nine) and Wilmas Mate (gate twelve). Husband and wife combination of Joe and Mary Rando along with driver David Morris are hoping for their biggest success through Rompers Monarchy while Rickie Alchin is also chasing the ultimate prize with his talented performer Tough Monarch for the first time. Champion trainer Tim Butt, now based at Menangle, is chasing his fourth Inter Dominion Grand Final trophy after scoring previously with Lyell Creek and Take A Moment (twice). Back in 2012, he finished second with Vulcan behind I Can Doosit. Butt is preparing the talented mare for Christchurch trainer Paul Nairn, a winner of the 1995 Inter Dominion Grand Final with Call Me Now. And New Zealand horseman Phil Williamson is hoping it’s five times a charmwhen he sends out Monty Python, the talented gelding will start from gate two. Williamson has previously qualified Allegro Agitato (2005 – 12th), One Over Kenny (2008 – 7th) and Springbank Richard (2011/12 – 8th & 7th). The locally trained Illawong Armstrong is listed as the emergency runner, he will start from gate eight if he secures a start. The Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final is steeped in great history and and now another chapter is about to be written this weekend. Chris Barsby

PACERS It will be an intriguing Pacers Grand Final as nobody is quite sure who will lead as the mobile gate pulls away and therefore who will win.  In saying that, it appears that there are only six realistic chances – they being Galactic Star (1), Im Pats Delight (3), Spankem (5), Tiger Tara (7) San Carlo (8) and Cruz Bromac (9). Galactic Star has raced extremely well throughout the series, winning at Melton on opening night in 1-54.1 by leading all of the way. His Ballarat third in 1-53.5 after racing wide was excellent, as was his second at Cranbourne last Saturday in 1-58 after breezing from the bell. Im Pats Delight’s runs have been full of merit in all three heats. His opening night second to Spanken in 1-54.3 was full of merit after making a mid-race move, then taking a sit, while his all the way Ballarat victory looked to be a soft success in 1-52.1, as did his second to Cruz Bromac last week in 1-56.5 after receiving the run of the race. His 2.3 metre Kaikoura Cup second to Spankem was strong after racing exposed. Spankem has been the revelation of the series. A 1-54.3 victory on opening night after racing wide from the bell was outstanding, as was his Ballarat third to Wrappers Delight in 1-53.6 when finishing late. At Cranbourne he treated his rivals with contempt after taking over at the bell, winning in a rate of 1-58. His part-owners Phil and Glenys Kennard have shared in the past two Interdom winners Smolda and Lazarus and have a great chance in making it three. Bulldog Tiger Tara can never be under estimated in any race he contests. One only has to watch his nose second to The Fixer in the 3200 metre NZ Cup last month where he raced uncovered for the last half of the journey to give him a major chance. On opening night his third to Spanken in 1-54.3 when flashing home after being held up was excellent, followed by a death-seating second to Wrappers Delight in 1-53.6 at Ballarat and a virtual all the way victory at Cranbourne in 1-57.1. San Carlo has raced well all through the series. Second on the first night to Galactic Star (1-54.1) after racing wide was full of merit, before a most unlucky fifth to Wrappers Delight after being held up until too late. His tough third at Cranbourne to Tiger Tara (1-57.1) after working to race without cover and going down fighting was a strong guide to his chances. Unfortunately all through the series, he has had no luck with the barrier draws. Cruz Bromac is the only runner in this Grand Final to go through the series undefeated. He coasted to victory on opening night in 1-53.8 after taking over just after the bell, raced wide at Ballarat (1-53.5) before proving much too classy and at Cranbourne found the front early in the piece before winning unextended in 1-56.5. For first four players Maximan (6) has to be included, however his barrier makes it hard. Our Uncle Sam (10) flashed home along the sprint lane from three back the markers when second to Tiger Tara , but will probably need a similar trip here and it is hard to knock Wrappers Delight’s efforts in all three heats, but the barrier draw has been unkind to his chances. TROTTERS The Trotters Grand Final looks a lot easier with only five horses looking to snare the major prize – they being Speeding Spur (1), Save Our Pennys (3), Tornado Valley (6) and Tough Monarch (9) and Kyvalley Blur (11). Speeding Spur is a brilliant beginner and possible leader from the pole, however arch rival Tornado Valley was able to cross him from outside the front line at Ballarat when Speeding Spur started from gate five, the pole draw here is a distinct advantage. After leading throughout on opening night in 1-58.7, prior to a game third to Tornado Valley (1-56.1) when racing uncovered, then another all the way victory at Cranbourne in 2-01.3, he looks one of the leading chances. Tornado Valley has hardly put a foot wrong since crossing the Tasman and his form going through the heats undefeated after leading in the majority of each race gives him a great chance. Can he sit outside Speeding Spur? That’s the question most are asking. Save Our Pennys has not put a foot wrong all through the series, finishing second to Tornado Valley on each occasion after receiving the run of the race. Should the two favourites cut at one another, he will be poised ready to strike if the opportunity presents itself. Tough Monarch from his favourable inside second line draw should the emergency come out is the other blow out chance. He looked disappointing at Cranbourne when fourth to Tornado Valley, joining him on the final bend after a sweet one/one trip, but his runs in all heats have been sound. Kyvalley Blur is always a chance in any race he contests, but will need them to go hard to finish his race off. His second to Marcoola in the two mile Dominion Handicap at Addington on Show Day was a great guide to this race.  Rough place chances can be given to Monty Python (2) as he should be suited by the journey, Big Jack Hammer (5) despite the horror draw and Kingdom Come (10) a stablemate of Tornado Valley.   Harness Racing Australia

Champion driver Gavin Lang secured gate three for both his 2018 TAB Inter Dominion pacing and trotting drives at this morning's barrier draw. Held at Zinc Federation Square on the banks of the Yarra, the TAB ID18 Barrier Draw and Breakfast of Champions attracted plenty of guests and grabbed the attention of morning commuters in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. Lang, who pilots impressive Kiwi Im Pats Delight in the pacing grand final and trotter Save Our Pennys in the trotting decider, has two live chances on the biggest stage of all. The master reinsman said both horses were progressing well through the ID18 series to date but would have to step it up again to secure harness racing's holy grail. Save Our Pennys heads into the trotting decider a $14 shot after finishing second in all his qualifying heats behind the raging ID18 favourite Tornado Valley. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have driven a lot of very good trotters in my career and I would have been prepared to say this one’s not a patch on any of those ones, especially the three Inter Dominion winners,” Lang said when asked about the recent progress of the seven-year-old. “But I must say he’s really exceeded my expectations (through ID18).” Lang also said Save Our Pennys’ fitness was improving each run after his first-up second off a 30-metre handicap in the Geelong Trotting Cup. “He got beaten on his merits at Geelong and I thought if he improves 10 per cent from that in the first of the Inter Dominion heats I’d be pleased. I wasn’t expecting him to come out and run second,” Lang said. “He’s improved each run through this series and three seconds is more than I would have expected. “The distance of the final (2760m) is no burden for him and he’s just an old-fashioned horse who puts his head down and gets on with it. He’s got a great demeanour.” Cran Dalgety-trained Im Pats Delight is a four-year-old New Zealand pacer, who has gone from strength to strength through the heat rounds. “It’s a daunting task for a four-year-old to contest an Inter Dominion series but he is very mature and he seems to be getting through each run well,” Lang said. Meanwhile, Nat Rasmussen has chosen Cruz Bromac as her ID18 drive in the pacing final with partner Mark Purdon picking up the reins aboard fancied stablemate Spankem. Click here for the ID18 final fields   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

A little-known former New Zealand pacer has emerged as the key player in the A$500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final.  Because while former Southland pacer Galactic Star has had a top class career in West Australia, he would rarely have been on the radar of most New Zealand punters, even the serious harness racing players, until this Interdom series in Victoria.  Yet after drawing the ace for Saturday night’s 2760m final at Melton, the attitude of his connections could decide the race.  Galactic Star, who won four races in New Zealand two years ago when trained by Des Baynes, won his first night heat of this series using blazing gate speed and has been very good when placed in his subsequent two heats.  But his impact on the final outcome has been boosted enormously by him drawing barrier one, from where he looks certain to lead.  If driver Ryan Warwick wants to stay in front that will mean no shot at the lead for key front line runners Pat Delight (barrier three), Spankem (five) or Tiger Tara (seven).  It would almost certainly mean plenty of pressure to try and break him and potentially bring a horse like series points leader Cruz Bromac into contention after he fared poorly in the draw, copping the second line  But if Warwick and the Galactic Star’s connections decide the trail is the place to be then either of the well-favoured Kiwis, Pats Delight or Spankem, will fancy their chances of running to the front and therefore becoming the one to beat.   Spankem’s incredible rise throughout this series continued after the draw as he is now the $2.80 favourite for the classic just six weeks after punters could have got $41 for him to win it.  He has thrilled co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen with how he has bounced through his three heats but she has decided to stick with Cruz Bromac as her drive out of loyalty, having driven him five times for five wins.  That means training partner Mark Purdon takes the reins behind Spankem and gives him a shot at a unique piece of Inter Dominion history as he has won the last two pacing finals driving Smolda and Lazarus so could make it a three-peat on three different horses.  Spankem, who won only once last season as a three-year-old, is favourite over Pats Delight and Cruz Bromac still the third favourite even though his task looks enormously more difficult as he won’t be able to use his gate speed.  Gate speed and tactical decisions could also decide the A$150,000 Trotting Final on Saturday, which after the draw looks a two-horse race.  South Auckland trotter Speeding Spur has the advantage of barrier one giving co-trainer and driver Josh Dickie options of whether to stay in front or elects to trail favourite Tornado Valley.  The latter has drawn barrier six and may even have the raw speed to cross Speeding Spur but if the pair lead and trail it looks curtains for their rivals. (THESE FIELDS TO BE BROKEN OUT ON RUNNER PER LINE) The fields for the two Inter Dominion finals to be run at Melton on Saturday night are: $500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final, 2760m mobile, 11.45 (NZtime) 1: Galactic Star 2: Can’t Refuse 3: Im Pats Delight 4: Mach Doro 5: Spankem 6: Maximan 7: Tiger Tara 8: San Carlo (1 second line) 9: Cruz Bromac 10: Our Uncle Sam 11: Wrappers Delight 12: Audi Hare (em) 13: Cash N Flow A$150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final, 2760m, 11.08 NZtime 1: Speeding Spur 2: Monty Python 3: Save Our Pennys 4: Rompers Monarchy 5: Big Jack Hammer 6: Tornado Valley 7: Sky Petite 8: Illawong Armstrong (1 second line, em) 9: Tough Monarch 10: Kingdom Come 11: Kyvalley Blur 12: Wilmas Mate 13: Red Hot Tooth   Michael Guerin

NATALIE Rasmussen is no closer to choosing between Inter Dominion big guns Cruz Bromac and Spankem as her drive in next Saturday’s $500,000 Grand Final. Most expected she would do so after Monday's barrier draw, but that’s not the case. “It’s such a hard call. I’d like to wait as long as possible, but I’ll probably do it after I see the draw and then jog them both on Tuesday morning,” Rasmussen said. “They are both so well, have thrived over here and did it really again in their heats tonight (at Cranbourne).” Mark Purdon will drive whichever Rasmussen opts not to partner. Spankem again stamped himself as the “find” of the series when he dominated and won easily in the first of the third round pacing heats at Cranbourne last night. The nuggety gelding made a midrace move from a back row draw to find the lead and cruised to a 7.7m win over a gallant Galactic Star in a 1min58sec mile rate for 2555m, capped by closing splits of 54.8 and 28sec flat. “He’s done so well, almost too well, during the series. He’s put on at least 5kgs during it. I had to jog him the morning of the Ballarat heats and then had to gallop him this morning (before Cranbourne),” Rasmussen said. “He’s just such a good doer.” Galactic Star finished the qualifiers with a win and two strong placings and with Todd McCarthy driving Tiger Tara in the final, trainer Greg Bond confirmed stable driver Ryan Warwick would come across for Perth for the Grand Final. As sharp as Spankem looked, Cruz Bromac did more work, went much quicker time and seemed to win just as easily in his Cranbourne heat last night. “Well I didn’t pull the plugs, so he did it pretty easily,” Rasmussen said. Cruz Bromac went a 1min56.5sec mile rate, ran home in 55.0 and 28.5sec and finished the only unbeaten runner through the three rounds of heats. The Aussie TAB was more impressed with Cruz Bromac and firmed him from $4 into $3.40 favourite for the final, while Spankem eased from $4 to $4.20. The Kiwi influence on the final absolutely extends to Cran Dalgety’s four-year-old Im Pats Delight, who ran a terrific second to Cruz Bromac last night. It followed a second to Spankem on night one and easy win on night two. Driver Gavin Lang was so bullish after last night’s race and headed to the final. “Swap the runs tonight and Cruz Bromac would’ve have beaten us,” he said. “Just looking at this horse, he’s improving through the series and I’m sure he’s got a great chance in the final. I’m really looking forward to it.” Lang, arguably the greatest driver of all time, has never won an Inter Dominion Pacing Final. Australia’s best hope, warhorse Tiger Tara, snared his first win of the series when he worked to the front and just staved-off the much-improved Our Uncle Sam in a 1min57.1sec mile rate. He is $4.60 third favourite for the final. “He was all out on the line. Sure I’d like him to have a little more easily, but there’s a couple of things to consider,” driver Todd McCarthy said. “He wasn’t totally at home on the track and switched on and off a fair bit, plus his first two heat runs were so soft I actually think he needed the run tonight. “Kev knows the horse so well. I’m sure with the week until the final he’ll have him spot on. We just need a (good) draw now.” Highly-rated Victorians San Carlo and Wrappers Delight divided opinions last night. San Carlo did plenty of midrace work to park outside Tiger Tara and battled away well for third. It’s clear he will need a gun draw and the right run to win the final. Wrappers Delight, who led throughout at Ballarat, had a cosy three-peg run, got clear at the right time and just plugged away in the home straight when fifth to Spankem. It was a very plain run, but driver Kima Frenning remained upbeat. “I was happy with the run. It was his first run over the long distance for a long time. He’ll be better for it,” she said. On what he did last night, he’s no longer a winning chance in the final. The crucial barrier is at 11am (NZ time) tomorrow morning. INTER DOMINION PACING FINAL FIELD AND MARKET $3.40 CRUZ BROMAC, $4.20 Spankem, $4.60 Tiger Tara, $6.50 San Carlo, $7.50 Im Pats Delight, $9 Wrappers Delight, $12 Galactic Star, $41 Our Uncle Sam, $61 Cant Refuse, $71 Cash N Flow, $101 Mach Doro, $151 Village Witch (2nd emerg), $201 Audi Hare (1st emerg) Adam Hamilton

NOT even a bad barrier could be enough to stop home town star Tornado Valley from winning the Inter Dominion trotting final. While his key rivals have been falling by the wayside of mixing form through the heats, Tornado Valley looks in the zone and on the up. The only scare Andy Gath’s former Kiwi trotter had at Cranbourne last night was when a rear bandage unravelled in the home straight and fans watched, grimacing in the hope he didn’t step on it. Crisis averted, Tornado Valley cruised to his third win from as many heats and firmed from $2 to $1.60 to win the final ahead of tomorrow’s barrier draw. If he draws to lead easily he will be $1.30 or so. And even from the worst draw – say inside back row (eight) our outside the back (12) – it’s hard to see him starting longer than $2-2.20ish. There’s no doubt classy Kiwi Speeding Spur is his major rival, but there is a doubt whether he’s thriving through the gruelling series like Tornado Valley. Speeding Spur was arrogant winning on night one, brave running third to Tornado Valley at Ballarat then workmanlike winning in the weaker heat at Cranbourne last night. Driver Josh Dickie nursed Speeding Spur as much and as long as he could for a 1.6m win over the emerging Big Jack Hammer. It was considerably slower time than Tornado Valley’s win and looked much harder work. Speeding Spur will need to draw well and Tornado Valley poorly for the Kiwi to have a realistic chance of upsetting the local in the final. Outside the star pair, veteran Kyvalley Blur was sound again last night, Save Our Pennys used another gun draw and soft trip to chase home Tornado Valley and Tough Monarch ran his third brave race in the heats. But is either of that trio good enough to beat Tornado Valley? Only if plenty goes wrong for the favourite it would seem. Kiwi pair Monty Python and Wilmas Mate also made the final, but look out of their depth on what we’ve seen in the heats. INTER DOMINION TROTTING FINAL FIELD AND MARKET $1.60 TORNADO VALLEY, $3.60 Speeding Spur, $10 Kyvalley Blur, $14 Save Our Pennys, $16 Tough Monarch, $31 Big Jack Hammer, $61 Kingdom Come, Red Hot Tooth, Sky Petite, $71 Monty Python, $81 Wilmas Mate, $101 Illawong Armstrong (1stemerg), $151 Rompers Monarchy, $201 Enrolled (2nd emerg). Adam Hamilton

Back in 2005, Chris Frisby realised one of his major harness racing dreams. His talented son of Fake Left, Dinki Di, a family-bred gelding, won the Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst. “For 18 years I have been trying to win this race,” Frisby said at the time. “I knew Shirley a long time before that and she was just a lovely, lovely lady.” Thirteen years later and Frisby still recalls fondly that victory, but says a TAB Inter Dominion start is challenging that day as a personal harness highlight. His five-year-old gelding Our Uncle Sam last night jumped into the ID18 pacing final courtesy of a slashing second behind Tiger Tara in the third-round heat at Cranbourne. “I’m so rapt. I have to slap myself in the face to tell if it’s real,” he said. “You always dream of an Inter Dominion runner. “I’ve always said Inter Dominion, Hunter Cup, Derbies, Oaks and the Shirley Turnbull Memorial are the races I want to win. “The last one some may not have heard of, but I won it with Dinki Di and that was probably my biggest thrill. We smashed the track record and it was a race I always wanted to win.” Our Uncle Sam qualified for the TAB ID18 final by running fourth on opening night at Melton, seven at Ballarat when covering ground throughout and a fast-finishing second on night three. Frisby's son Anthony drives the horse. And another stride and he probably would have pipped Tiger Tara at the weekend. “I might have took my head off and put a pumpkin on, but I’ve always thought that we’d be a chance in the Inter Dominion with the right run,” Frisby said. “He’s going good enough and I don’t think I’ve ever had him any better than he is now. He’s made the jump, but you always need luck in running.” Check out the full list of ID18 standings Trots Media - Cody Winnell

The morning after three of his horses secured berths in TAB Inter Dominion grand finals, passionate trots owner Dom Martello is both dreaming of an ID18 trophy and studying pedigrees for future sales. “I bought all these horses as yearlings,” he says proudly, pointing at the fact that last night and this morning he’s been delving into the breeding and studying the type of horses like Spankem as he plans for future members of his equine Hammer team. Martello will attend tomorrow morning’s TAB ID18 barrier draws at Zinc, Federation Square, where he’ll be hoping to draw successful gates for his two pacers, Wrappers Delight and Mach Doro, and his trotting star Big Jack Hammer for Saturday night’s grand finals at Tabcorp Park Melton. Martello said Wrappers Delight had especially been taking him on the ride of his life in recent times, the David Aiken-trained pacer securing feature wins such as the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Final, the Hygain Breeders Crown Championship, TAB Smoken Up Sprint and Cogs Services 4YO & 5YO Championship. “Wrappers in particular has been going through the dream list and ticking them off one by one, but this race (the Inter Dominion) is different,” Martello said. “I feel like if you win a race like the Inter Dominion then you go down in history. This is one race that you actually dare to dream.” Martello reserved special praise for young driver Kima Frenning (pictured above with Wrappers Delight by Ashlea Brennan), who has piloted both Wrappers Delight and Big Jack Hammer throughout their ID18 heats and helped secure both grand final berths. “One thing I especially like about Kima Frenning is she doesn’t have an ego. She’s hard working, positive and has talent. People like that just need a chance,” he said. Mach Doro is trained by Craig Cross and driven by star Sydney based reinsman Luke McCarthy. Tomorrow’s barrier draw will be live on Sky Racing 1, RSN and Sky Sports Radio from 9am, hosted by Greg Hayes and Adam Hamilton. From 6am until 10am RSN will broadcast live from Federation Square for the ID18 event, with roving panels and guests, including a half-hour Super Panel from 9.30am of Michael Felgate, Dan Mielicki, Jason Bonnington, Andy Gath and Adam Hamilton deep-diving into the form for the deciders. Head to the banks of the Yarra near Zinc to check out the show live, which will also feature HRV HERO ambassadors.  Check out the final TAB ID18 Standings   Trots Media - Cody Winnell

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