Picture: AAP Image/David Clark
Picture: AAP Image/David Clark

Super trotter in spotlight chasing riches


Denis Smith

THERE are milestones and there are milestones but in today's "stats and cash driven" world of Australian harness racing , the "megabuck" is the one that counts.

Victorian based super trotter Tornado Valley has his hoof on the cash register this weekend.

Victory at Beckley Park in Geelong on Saturday night won't go down as one of Tornado Valley's biggest racetrack triumphs but it would certainly be one of his most significant.

The Andy Gath-trained champion is set to become the ninth Australasian-bred square gaiter to reach the $1 million prizemoney mark, with success in the Jack Rabbit Winery Sundons Gift Trotters Free For All enough to tip his earnings into seven figures.

If triumphant, Tornado Valley would join fellow greats Lyell Creek, I Can Doosit, Sundons Gift, Speeding Spur, Take A Moment, Stent, Keystone Del and One Over Kenny as those from this part of the world to achieve the feat.

Only Sundons Gift and Keystone Del were trained here in Australia.

As it stands, Gath's charge is a winner of 38 races - 31 of which have been since arriving from New Zealand in 2018 - and $990,297 in cash, a figure that could have been significantly higher had he not had such a dislike for travelling.

"I think he came over with about $60,000 in the bank when he came from New Zealand, so he's won a lot of it here but he's never left Victoria since he's been here," Gath told Trots Talk.

Prizemoney disparity

ODDLY, due to an inexplicable bias against the diagonal gaited horse, prizemoney in a trotting feature is generally way below that offered to pacers, competing at a similar level (top grade or Classic).

Stranger still, both gaits in this country, trotting and pacing, share a common lineage.

Initially, they trace to Messenger, an English thoroughbred, imported to America in the late 1700s to sire gallopers and improve "road" or carriage horses.

Messenger was a grey stallion possessed of an unusually fast, efficient and reliable gait at the trot.

From Messenger's inbred great grandson, Hambletonian 10 (a trotter) descends every standardbred in Australia today. Such is the effect of the war waged on the "colonial bloodlines" by purely commercial interests.

A kind of equine parallel to racial discrimination, based on gait, exists here.

They have no such prejudice in Europe. They barred the pacers from day one.

Speed focus of Redcliffe series

THE Redcliffe Harness Racing Club will once again host the exciting TAB Trot Rods Series in 2021 after its successful inception last year.

Once again, the series of races will be conducted over 947 metres, just over one lap of the triangular circuit.

The Trot Rods Series will commence with two heats at Redcliffe on April 21, and continue with a total of 10 heats run over successive Wednesday nights.

Similar to last year, there will be a Trot Rods Final night on Wednesday May 26, which will contain a full card of 947 metre sprint races.

Each heat will be a Penalty Exempt event of $7,000, and limited to five starters and one emergency. The race field to be selected in descending field selection point order, however if ballots are required, a stablemate or a horse that has already contested a heat will be the first ballots.

A $10,000 bonus will be awarded to the owners of the horse with the fastest time throughout the series, thanks to Otto Tuza.

The winning trainer will also receive an Otto Tuza two-horse angled and fully enclosed horse float valued at over $21,000.

Further, a $1,000 bonus will be awarded to the connections of any horse that eclipses the previous best series time, split 80% to owner and 20% to trainer.

There you have it. If you are all for speed, speed and more speed, or you have a very short attention span, this is the series for you.

Honour board

NO clear-cut leading driver this week but nothing new at the top with Narissa McMullen and Pete McMullen stuck on the tie with five wins apiece.

Over on the training side, Chantal Turpin was in front bringing three winners back to the barn, ahead of Trent Dawson and Darrell Graham who managed two each.

However, for a pleasant change, the following list of trainers had a winner each. Some would be disappointed and others ecstatic. They are, in no particular order, Darren Ebert, Ryan Veivers, Warren Hinze, Paul Matis, Trent Hodges, Phill Keats, Lacey Hinze, Karen Schulz, Allan Godwin, Peter Greig, Mitchell Dawson, Steve Towns and Ron Sallis.

Most pleased would go to Karen Schulz who snagged a $7,500 Q-bred second win bonus with October Racketeer at Redcliffe on Thursday.

I'm pleased for them all, as winning is what keeps people in the game.

Ipswich factor: 28/56.

Albion Park, April 9: Royal Obsession (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Jingles Bromac (Narissa McMullen for Matt Elkins); Our Uncle Jim (Trent Dawson); Little Dee (Shane Graham for Steve Towns); Sir Semper Fidelis (Paul Matis); Barkway Arnold (Taleah McMullen); Gunner (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini).

 Albion Park, April 10: Speedy Dominic (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Blacks A Dance (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Stinger Lindenny (Dani Veivers for Ryan Veivers); Saucy Dreams (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Twenty Eight Black (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Run Boy Run (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin).

 Redcliffe, April 11: King Of Trumps (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Headwin (Ben Battle for Alan Godwin); Seamark (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Star Of Wonder (Noel Parrish for Trent Hodges); Risky Buziness (Zac Chappenden for Lacey Hinze); Living Free (Angus Garrard for Phill Keats).

 Albion Park, April 13: Love your Work (Trent Dawson); Groovy Miss Annie (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig); Scotch En Ice (Matt Elkins for Vic Frost).

 Redcliffe, April 14: Camroller (Trent Moffat for Toby Williams); Whata Reactor (Nathan Dawson for Warren Hinze); My Georgie (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson).

 Redcliffe, April 15: October Racketeer (Chris Petroff for Karen Schulz); Shez Got Bling (Pete McMullen for Richard Hutchinson); Whateley (Taleah McMullen for Darren Ebert).

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park on Saturday night.

 R1: Quinella 8-9: Mister Freeze (B Barnes) and Handsome Hero (C Butler).

 R2: Quinella 1-8: Fame Assured (G Dixon) and Casino Tommy (C Butler).

 R3: E/w 7: LL Cool J (N Dawson).

 R4: Quinella 2-8: Sir Jujon (G Dixon) and Life Of Brian (B Barnes).

 R5: Quinella 1-9: Royal Aurora (C Butler) and Stinger Lindenny (D Veivers).

 R6: Quinella 1-8: Major General Jujon) and Twenty Eight Black (N Dawson).

 R7: Quinella 1-8: Obi One (I Ross) and It Aint The Money (N McMullen).

 R8: Quinella 1-4: Ark Me (g Dixon) and Adreniline Rush (P McMullen).

 R9: E/w 3: Miss Gold Fortune (P McMullen).

 R10: 1: I Am Sparta (S Graham).