Controversy has followed Alligator Blood throughout his career but the horse was back in the headlines for all the right reasons after delivering Gai Waterhouse her first Stradbroke Handicap and her 150th Group 1 win.
Disqualified from his 2020 Magic Millions Guineas victory due to a positive drug test, Alligator Blood has since been beset by injury and stable changes after a split between his owners and original trainer David Vandyke.
The 2020 Australian Guineas winner eventually found his way to Tulloch Lodge and showed a glimpse of his best when runner-up in the BRC Sprint at his first start for Waterhouse and Adrian Bott last month.
But on Saturday at Eagle Farm, it was the Alligator Blood of old, the horse camping off a solid speed and spearing to the front for a memorable win.
“As has been well documented over the last year or two, the horse has had problems but Gai and Adrian, the staff back at Randwick and also in Brisbane, have worked overtime to get this horse right,” Tulloch Lodge stable representative Neil Paine said.
“We’re just rapt that we’ve got him and he’s come back to his best.
“It’s just incredible Gai and Adrian could get him back to where he is.”
Tim Clark made a special trip to Brisbane to partner Alligator Blood in a trackwork gallop on Tuesday and while he felt the horse was spot-on, he was wary of his outside barrier.
However, Clark was able to slot him in behind a solid tempo and when he got to the outside, Alligator Blood ($11) accelerated clear to score by a length over the luckless Private Eye ($17), with Rothfire ($11) sticking on after leading, another 1-3/4 lengths away.
“On straightening, it was a matter of being patient, letting him build through his gears and I thought all he has to do is find off the bridle and he showed a great turn of foot,” Clark said.
“I haven’t had a lot to do with the horse’s career but that was a pretty special performance.
“It’s great to ride another Group 1 winner for Gai and Adrian, Gai’s 150th, her first Stradbroke and I’m sure they’d be stoked.”
Private Eye’s jockey Brenton Avdulla ran into traffic jams in the straight and felt the topweight would have made a race of it with even luck.
“He went huge and was probably stiff not to win,” Avdulla said.
“The low draw helped him early but the things around him didn’t take him anywhere and the winner was off and gone.”
Favourite Eleven Eleven finished last with Hugh Bowman saying everything went wrong from the time the horse got into the gates.
“He got a bit upset in the barriers with a bit going on and I didn’t have time to settle him,” Bowman said.
“During the race it was chaotic to say the least, and he didn’t appreciate it unfortunately.”
Alliagtor Blood was the 16th major Waterhouse and Bott have won since forming their partnership, adding to the 134 Waterhouse captured as a trainer in her own right.