While Alligator Blood’s star continues to rise with every win, his trainer David Vandyke feels a lot of the pressure is off heading into the $5 million All-Star Mile.
Alligator Blood has won 10 of his 11 starts, including his past five highlighted by his first Group One success in the Australian Guineas at Flemington on February 29.
The three-year-old, whose feature wins include the $2 million Magic Millions Guineas, is favourite to cap his season in Saturday’s rich All-Star Mile at Caulfield and easily received the most votes in the public poll which determined the majority of the 15 runners.
Vandyke believes Alligator Blood will be in top condition again for the race and is poised to deliver another good performance, but the trainer says he will be happy with a top-three finish in what looms as possibly his biggest challenge yet at the end of a busy season.
Vandyke says he is not feeling the same pressure as he did heading into the Australian Guineas and is enjoying the All-Star Mile build-up.
“Group One status, Australian Guineas, Flemington. That was a huge feather in his cap,” Vandyke said.
“It was a first Group One for the owners. First Group One for (jockey) Ryan Maloney. So the pressure is off and we’re really enjoying this week.”
The All-Star Mile is in its second year and while it does not hold Group status the field features 10 individual Group One winners, with Queenslander Alligator Blood at $2.70 for his first attempt at weight-for-age.
Ten-time Group One winner Melody Belle was $5 on Thursday.
“I think he’s probably got to put in a career-best performance to win the race and I’ll walk away happy if he runs top three,” Vandyke said.
“I think it’s a great honour to him that he is that price in a field of 10 Group One winners. I hope he lives up to that price and wins the race.
“But as I said, I’d be happy with a top-three performance considering the long drawn out preparation and the achievements he’s made.”
Three-year-olds have shown their class already this season with Loving Gaby, Alabama Express and Bivouac winning elite-level races against older horses.
Mystic Journey won the inaugural All-Star Mile last year coming off an Australian Guineas win, and Vandyke is happy how Alligator Blood has come through his Guineas triumph and with his work this week.
“He’s got better as the days rolled on and he’ll be in pristine condition come Saturday,” he said.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au