A blistering beginning and brave finish saw Tornado Valley capture the TAB Inter Dominion Trotting Championship in the hands of reinswoman Kate Gath, who became the first female to salute in the great race.
Long Forrest trainer Andy Gath and Kate, his wife, again proved a formidable force in Australasian racing with a thrilling victory by a neck from surprise packet Sky Petite, saluting in front of packed stands at Tabcorp Park Melton.
“To win the Inter Dominion tonight blows my mind. It’s the race everyone wants to win and I’ve won one,” Kate said.
“I can’t believe how lucky I am in my career to win the races I’ve won. It’s astonishing.”
Andy said the pair had “been fortunate to have a lot of good horses win a lot of big races but to win an Inter Dominion is the ultimate”.
“We just love this horse, he just knows how to win and we are very fortunate to have him in our stable.”
Kate flew the gates from her widest front row draw and found the front after 300m, pocketing the second favourite and well-fancied Kiwi Speeding Spur.
It would be the critical move, with Tornado Valley in control out in front as they notched a moderate lead time into a 30.2 first quarter.
The challenges threatened in the running line, first Save Our Pennys, then Tough Monarch, but Tornado Valley saw them all off.
At the turn it was Sky Petite who emerged from three-wide and loomed next to Tornado Valley, fighting on brilliantly before losing by only a neck in the hands of talented young reinsman Ryan Duffy for trainer Michael Stanley.
But it was to be Tornado Valley and Kate Gath’s night.
“Leading early was that little bit of luck we needed to be hard to beat and once we led I was happy, but I burned really hard to lead,” Kate said.
“I came out pretty aggressively to get him across. Everything fell into place and I’m pretty lucky.”