Five long years after winning a Derby, Tiger Tara may finally have hit his peak.
That is the only explanation for the now eight-year-old's dazzling summer form that reached its zenith when he destroyed his Inter Dominion Pacing Final rivals at Melton on Saturday night.
Roaring straight to the front for fearless driver Todd McCarthy, Tiger Tara controlled the race until a 26.2 second last 400m sectional left him so far in front McCarthy could enjoy the stroll down the Melton straight.
The explosive victory comes after a similar performance in the Victoria Cup in October and his breathtakingly brave second in last month's New Zealand Cup.
That has given him an early stranglehold on Australian Pacer of the Year, all at an age when most horses are already retired or their powers are starting to decline. Making that even more unlikely is the fact Tiger Tara was a great three-year-old who won the Sires' Stakes Final over five years ago and the Northern Derby.
And he has hardly been idle since, having been one of the busier open class stars in recent memory since joining Sydney trainer Kevin Pizzuto two years ago.
He was sold in part to get away from a raging Lazarus and that latter still dominated him last season but with that champ now retired, Tiger Tara is the benchmark for the open class crop.
"I think he has got better this season," says Pizzuto.
"He is stronger and I have changed his training and he is loving it.
"So we are going to keep going to all the big races and I reckon we will be back in New Zealand for the Cup next year too."
Tiger Tara was so strong there could be no excuse for his rivals and trainer Mark Purdon wasn't making any for his pair Cruz Bromac (third) and Spankem (fourth).
"The winner was too good and once he led and ran the last lap that hard we were in trouble." The pair will both stay in Victoria now to prepare for races like the Hunter Cup and in Spankem's case the four-year-old Bonanza, in which he will attempt to qualify for the Chariots Of Fire.
While the Kiwis were vanquished, Tiger Tara's win can only help the sales industry here, as will the win of Tornado Valley in the A$150,000 Trotting Final.
He also used his gate speed to lead and dictate terms but favourite punters were given a late fright when Sky Petite pushed Tornado Valley close.
A good but immature trotter when trained in Canterbury by Terry McMillan, Tornado Valley has gone to another level for Andy Gath and is likely to return to New Zealand for races like the Anzac and Rowe Cups in April next year.
South Auckland trotter Speeding Spur had every chance when third after trailing, with trainer John Dickie believing the now millionaire trotter underperformed by a couple of lengths on his best form.
"He can do that once in a while now he is an older horse but the winner was too good on the night."