By Tim O’Connor
Australia’s best trotter Tornado Valley notched up his eighth Group 1 victory with an emotional success in Monday night’s rescheduled Alderbaran Park The Knight Pistol (2240m).
Monday night’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting was rescheduled from last Friday when a heavy downpour of rain ruined parts of the track.
The Andy Gath-trained superstar claimed his second successive win in the feature after overcoming a back row draw and three-wide trip through the middle stages of the race.
He hit the front at the top of the straight and then held off the fast-finishing Wobelee to win by a nose on the line.
The triumph was a special one for connections with owner Norm Jenkin still mourning the recent passing of his brother.
“We had to bury his brother today so we’d like to dedicate this win to Robert,” Gath said.
“He’s won it two years in-a-row this horse and we just love him – he just keeps winning and winning.”
Tornado Valley’s win in the $50,000 The Knight Pistol followed a narrow success in the $250,000 Great Southern Star two weeks earlier and takes the son of Skyvalley’s career prizemoney to over $730,000.
Driver Kate Gath was full of praise for the eight-year-old, which again showed his characteristic determination in the closing stages of the race.
“It was pretty special actually because not everything went his way,” she said.
“I’m a Wobelee fan and I think going forward Wobelee could be the next Tornado Valley. So for him to hold his younger protege off after doing a bit of work was nothing short of outstanding as well.
“He’s just stamped that he’s really going as good as ever and we’ve still got a lot to look forward too.”
New Zealander Temporale finished third ahead of Kylie Sugars’ Sammy Showdown, which was game after leading the field in his first crack at the elite level.
The Gath team landed victory early on Monday night when Miss Hartley won the Australian Pacing Gold Pace (2240m, 4YO+) before David Aiken-trained Jimmy Locke produced perhaps the most impressive win of the evening with a brilliant display in the Flem-Ken Bowls Club Vicbred Pace (1720m, NR 70-77).
The horse charged home from back in the field to score by almost 20m in a mile rate of 1:52.4.