Boom three-year-old Alligator Blood will look to add a group 1 victory to his resume on Saturday before launching an audacious bid to win three of the world's richest races.
The champion Queensland gelding was the most popular pick among voters for next month's $5 million All-Star Mile and, on Thursday, trainer David Vandyke said he would set his spring sights on the $15 million Everest and $7.5 million Golden Eagle features in Sydney, ruling out a crack at the Cox Plate.
David Vandyke kisses Alligator Blood after the CS Hayes Stakes. Credit:Getty Images
"We're in negotiations there [for The Everest] and then he will go to the Golden Eagle, so the spring will be in Sydney and there'll be no opportunity to step him out further than the 1500 [metres]," Vandyke said.
"He'll probably be back in the paddock after that and we'll look further afield to try and get him out over a longer journey. I would like to see him further than the mile but I might change my mind after the Guineas on Saturday."
Some talk surrounds whether Alligator Blood will scratch from next month's All-Star Mile having been back in work since November, but Vandyke said that had been blown out of proportion.
"I always assess each horse after they have a run and decide whether they move to the next start and that's the same with this horse," he said.
A winner of nine from 10, Alligator Blood's only blemish came at group 1 level last October in the Caulfield Guineas – his only attempt so far at 1600 metres.
Saturday's Australian Guineas over the same distance will provide jockey Ryan Maloney a chance at redemption.
The 34-year-old has never won a group 1, with last year's Caulfield Guineas the closest he's gone. He believed he had the race sewn up with 200 metres to go before Mark Zahra flew down the outside of the track with Super Seth to break Alligator Blood's undefeated record.
"Obviously in the Caulfield Guineas he never saw Super Seth coming; I did but he never saw him coming," Maloney said.
The look of intent: Jockey Ryan Maloney rides Alligator Blood (right) to the win. Credit:Getty Images
"At the 200, I was four clear and looked on the big screen and thought, 'Here we go, first group 1.' My heart sank when I saw him. I got stuck right into him, my bloke, and he half-resented because he thought the job was done."
Maloney said he would ride a lot more conservatively over 1600 metres than he did in the epic last-start match race against Catalyst, however Vandyke said there were some doubts over whether Alligator Blood could run a strong mile, especially after the testing CS Hayes Stakes win.
"He is a risk at the mile because his only defeat was over that journey but he's a different horse now, he's a bit more relaxed and he should get every chance," he said.
"Historically horses that get into those duels never reproduce the same performance.
"All the signs have been good otherwise I wouldn't be running him Saturday but whether he can back up and perform at the same level, we'll know on Saturday."
And Vandyke added that it wouldn't just be a race in two.
"There's only eight runners on Saturday but Alabama Express won a group 1 last start against the older horses, Catalyst is just a top horse. To win this at group 1 level would be bordering on a career highlight," Vandyke said.
"I know his last start for me was a career highlight but winning an Australian Guineas on Saturday would probably surpass that."
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