Bring on Oscar

ANDY Gath is excited about taking on buzz Kiwi Oscar Bonavena with his stable stars Tornado Valley and McLovin.

As much as Gath respects the potential of NZ’s most exciting trotter, he’s certainly not afraid of Oscar Bonavena.

“You’re in the game to run in the best races, against the best horses. I can’t wait to see our two against him,” he said.

“Maybe he’ll be too good for us, who knows, but I’m not afraid of him. I respect him for sure, but I’m not afraid of him.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge, especially now we’ve got both our horses right back to their best.”

Gath said he “took some heart” from Oscar Bonavena’s last-start defeat in the Group 1 National Trot on New Year’s Eve.

“On one hand it showed he’s not invincible, but, on the other hand, he did the work and was beaten by two proven, older stars who raced on the marker pegs. It was a mighty run by Oscar,” he said.

Tornado Valley used a gun draw (gate three) to lead, dictate and easily win his sixth Group 1 race in the Maori Mile at Bendigo last Friday night.

And McLovin, robbed of an Auckland Inter Dominion tilt by untimely health issues, will resume at Shepparton this Saturday night.

“He’s working really well. He’s right back on song and is raring to go,” he said. “He’ll go to Shepparton then probably to Melton on the 25th (of January), Group 1 Dullard Cup.

“I really can’t split he and Tornado Valley, but they won’t clash until the Great Southern Star (February 1, Melton).”

Gath conceded niggling problems have plagued Tornado Valley since he dominated the 2018 Melbourne Inter Dominion series.

“It’s only just now, these past three runs, where he’s shown us he’s right back to his very best. He’s been hassle-free for a while and it’s great timing.

“This is the first time in more than a year I’d say he’s right at his absolute top.”

It looks likely Tornado Valley and Oscar Bonavena will clash in the $30,000 Group 2 EB Cochran Trotters’ Cup (2200m) at Ballarat on January 18.

“You always hope he draws well. He’s unbeaten in front and it’ll take a special horse to change that. I’d say McLovin and Oscar Bonavena would be the only trotters around who could possibly do it, so we’re in for some great racing,” Gath said.

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