By Adam Hamilton
RELIEF overtook excitement for Kate Gath after Tornado Valley clean-swept the Melbourne Inter Dominion trotting series.
It was closer than most expected, by the former Kiwi trotter made 17 wins from his past 19 starts and gave Gath and her husband, Andy, their first Inter Dominion final win.
“For so long I’d had people coming up to me at the races saying ‘it’s not long now until you’ll be an Inter Dominion winner, Kate’, but I hated that. I thought it couldn’t been a moz. It added to the pressure,” Kate Gath said.
“He was the best horse through the heats, but the final was a new race, a different races, and I fully expected a battle and we got one, just from a different than horse that I thought.
“To win the Inter Dominion tonight blows my mind. It’s the race everyone wants to win and I’ve won one now.”
Tornado Valley’s prospects soared when he showed enough gate speed to buzz across the field from gate six, including his main danger Speeding Spur.
Once in front, Gath steadied the tempo and everything looked good until Tornado Valley started to overrace in the middle stages when Tough Monarch moved around to sit parked.
Gath kept looking around to Speeding Spur on her back as the main danger, but it was local bolter Sky Petite, a $104 chance, who launched a massive three and four-wide run around the field and just kept coming at the favourite.
“I thought she was a chance of causing the upset, but Ryan (Duffy, driver) said when he got to the leader’s girth, it gave a another kick,” Sky Petite’s trainer Mick Stanley said.
Still no horse has run past Tornado Valley in any of his 21 Australians starts for the Gaths.
“They don’t give you these races, you have to earn them to win them as tonight showed,” Andy Gath said.
It was one step better than Andy Gath’s previous best Inter Dominion result, a second with La Coocaracha in the 2002 Harold Park trotting final.
Speeding Spur, who had a cosy run behind the leader, was flat-footed rounding he home bend and just battled in the run home to finish third, almost 10m from the winner.
He ran below his best, again raising doubts about how well he handles his races so close together.
Phil Williamson’s Monty Python was well driven to find the marker pegs by Anthony Butt and ran a solid race for fourth, while the other Kiwi raider, Wilmas Mate, finished sixth.