Majestic Man third as Tornado Valley stuns

By Adam Hamilton 

It was Andy Gath’s proudest moment. And Kate Gath said it eclipsed her breakthrough Hunter Cup win on About To Rock as the highlight of her career.

Tornado Valley’s successful defence of his Group 1 Great Southern Star crown had it all.

Just five days beforehand, he wasn’t going to contest the race.

First a minor setback to stablemate Majestuoso and then a stunning Tornado Valley workout on Monday morning changed everything.

“When I said to Andy we simply had to run him after his work (Monday), I didn’t think he’d do this,” Kate Gath said.

“This has got to top everything doesn’t it? He’s such a special horse to us and come here first-up for five months and win the heat and final is just unbelievable.

“It was only six or eight weeks ago he didn’t go any good at the trials and I said to Andy we had to think about whether it was time to retire him. He’s a nine-year-old and was coming back off his last preparation where he didn’t fire.”

Andy Gath, a notoriously hard marker on his horses, has long said former trotting mare La Coocaracha was the only champion he had trained.

“That’s changed tonight,” he said. “He’s won 10 Group 1 races and almost $1 million. He’s a champion.

“As late as last Sunday night, he wasn’t coming here. We were waiting for the Knight Pistol next week.”

A radical, maybe even “last gasp” tactic, to change Tornado Valley’s training routine worked wonders.

“After that trial we’d almost given up, so I changed things around and started interval training him. It definitely made him keener and sharper,” Kate Gath said.

Tornado Valley stunned onlookers when he blasted out to easily hold the front from star Kiwi raider Majestic Man in the second qualifying heat and then went on to win and smash the track record with a 1min53.1sec mile rate for 1720m.

But could he repeat the dose two hours later … off such a limited preparation?

Yes, he could, albeit in very different circumstances.

Kate Gath tried to hold the front on Tornado Valley, but was crossed by the rejuvenated Magicool and she opted to stay behind the leader and leave Majestic Man parked.

Just when Magicool looked home halfway down the straight, Tornado Valley rallied along the sprint lane and snatched victory.

Majestic Man, who sat parked in the heat and final, fought on well for third in the final.

Tornado Valley’s heat and final wins took him just past $975,000 in earnings and into ninth spot on the all-time Australasian list of trotting earners.

Andy Gath will savour perhaps his finest moment yet before deciding what’s next with Tornado Valley.

But the $50,000 Group 1 Knight Pistol is next Saturday and the $100,000 Group 1 Grand Prix on February 27.



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