Tornado Valley poised to top million dollars in earnings
By Adam Hamilton
Not since the opening night of its current track almost 43 years ago has Geelong hosted such a potentially significant trotting moment.
It was September 20, 1978 when Geelong’s Beckley Park opened the incomparable Maori’s Idol stole he show by winning the feature trot. It was one of his 40 wins from just 46 career starts.
Now Victoria’s modern-day trotting champion, former Kiwi gelding Tornado Valley, is poised to give Beckley Park another historic moment.
Tornado Valley, the 10-time Group 1 winner and former Inter Dominion champion, is poised to become just the third Australian-trained trotter to top the magical $1 million stakemoney barrier.
The nine-year-old’s 38 wins and 28 placings have netted him $990,297 so far with Saturday night’s first prize in the Group 3 Sundons Gift Trotters’ Free-For-All (2100m) being $13,680.
The other two Aussie-trained “millionaire” trotters are Kiwi-bred pair Sundons Gift ($1,275,264) and Keystone Del ($1,063,560).
While trainer Andy Gath’s focus is on this week, he says it’s still possible Tornado Valley could chase Sundons Gift’s record.
“He might be a nine-year-old, but he’s racing and working as well as ever,” he said.
“Sure we almost retired him in January, but we changed a few things around and he got right back to his best to win the heat and final of the Great Southern Star.
“It’s given us the confidence to think he might have a flat spot here and there at his age, but we can get him through it as we did.”
Tornado Valley’s made such an impact on Gath, he is just the second horse he’s trained in a 30-plus year career he calls a champion.
“La Coocaracha was the only one before him. They are so different. She was cut-down in her prime and so brilliant, but he’s just kept on keeping on and is a bit of a working class hero, nowhere near as flashy as she was,” he said.
“And Tornado Valley’s real dislike for travel, even long float trips let alone planes, has meant he’s never left Victoria to chase any big races since he’s been with us. He’s earned it the hard way in that regard.”
So what about this weekend?
“He’s won three of his past four starts and I can truly say his work at home is as good as it’s ever been,” Gath said.
“Sure it’s never easy from the back row, but he’s so well and I’m sure he’ll be very hard to beat again.”
Victory this week would make Tornado Valley the ninth Australasian trotting to pass $1 million.