Gai Waterhouse and her stable star, All-Star Mile aspirant Alligator Blood
Voting for the 2023 All-Star Mile opened on Monday 6 February at 6am, and it was of no surprise to see the popular Alligator Blood rocket straight to the top of the rankings in the early stages.
The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott trained stable star enjoyed a fruitful year in 2022 with three Group 1 victories, taking his overall tally to four. He won Queensland’s premier race, the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), before returning to Victoria to take the Underwood Stakes (1800m) and Champions Stakes (1600m), with a credible fifth in in the Centenary Ladbrokes Cox Plate in between.
It hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Alligator Blood though. It is well documented that he suffered a career threatening injury known as ‘kissing spine’ back when he was a four-year-old, and spent nearly a year on the sidelines recovering after undergoing a serious operation.
He returned to the races after being transferred from David Vandyke to Billy Healy, but his form didn’t represent the Alligator Blood of old – until he eventually joined powerhouse the stable, Waterhouse & Bott.
“He first came to our stables when I was away overseas,” Gai told us during the week.
“Adrian said we’re training Alligator Blood, and I said well what a lovely horse to have.
“He’d been out of form for a while. He won his Group 1 as a three-year-old (Australian Guineas), and then he went out of form which sometimes happens.
“But he just settled in to the routine of the place. We got to know him, and he got to know our training style, and it’s been a match made in heaven!”
That ‘style’ Gai speaks of is no secret to the racing fraternity, however, it is near on impossible to stop. Waterhouse & Bott trained runners are well known to be tough, on speed types with a never say die attitude, and now Alligator Blood is exactly the same. Once a horse that would often be ridden off the pace, Alligator Blood won both of his Victorian Group 1 races in the Spring by leading all the way and fending his rivals off to the finish line.
In particular, his win in the Underwood Stakes at Sandown is a highlight victory that stands out amongst the rest for Gai Waterhouse. I’m Thunderstruck ($2.15F), Zaaki ($2.70) and Mr Brightside ($7.50) were all seen as better winning chances than ‘The Blood’ that day ($8), but ridden perfectly by Tim Clark, the son of 2012 W.S. Cox Plate runner-up All Too Hard showed his fighting qualities and kicked back strongly to score by three quarters of a length.
“I loved the day he won at Sandown; I just loved that run.
“His competitors had been so consistent in their races against him. Zaaki and the others.
“He was never far away from them, and when he won, they were never far away from him. It was a very competitive Spring last Spring, it was very exciting.”
Alligator Blood will resume this Autumn in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Sandown on February 25, before tackling the All-Star Mile (1600m) at The Valley second up on March 18.
Waterhouse says he is building his fitness nicely in the lead up to his first run, which she equates to being 90% at the moment, and while the stable have no plans on campaigns for attracting votes for the fan-voted All-Star Mile, the early projections are telling us they need not bother.
“There’s something very Aussie about him, isn’t there?”, Gai said when asked about his popularity.
“He’s come back from being out of form, to being in form, and I think his racing style where he’s out there leading and he’s saying catch me, and then when they come up to him, he’s saying keep away.
“There’s a real grittiness about him, a real street fighter.
“And the name Alligator Blood, people just relate to it. He has got quite a following, doesn’t he?”
Alligator Blood is the equal $5 favourite for this year’s All-Star Mile, with defending champion Zaaki on the third line of betting at $7.