The crowning of Alligator Blood as the 2019/20 season Queensland Racehorse Of The Year was a second success in the top category for trainer David Vandyke who previously took out the award with Yankee Rose back in the 2016/17 racing season.
“It was a big thrill,” said Vandyke, “because Alligator Blood is more established as a Queensland horse than Yankee Rose was back then.
“Yankee Rose was technically a Queenslander, but we were new arrivals in the state that season, whereas Alligator Blood has been a Queensland horse from day one.
“There was nothing special about him early days, but he evolved,” explained Vandyke. “He learned what was expected and he got a real passion to compete and he obviously had the underlying ability which sometimes we don’t see until they are out on the battlefield.
“I was just fortunate that he landed in my lap and I have been able to go along on the ride with him.”
The prestigious award and the results of the past season will now be confined to history with a largely satisfied glow by Alligator Blood’s connections, but there is plenty of unfinished business still to be taken care of by their star performer … not least in the $7.5 million Golden Eagle on October 31.
Alligator Blood has raced twice season in the lead-up to the Golden Eagle. He finished third first-up and then, in his last start, he finished second as a beaten favourite behind Flit in the Silver Eagle.
Some might have expected more, but the trainer was happy to give Alligator Blood a pass mark on both of those runs.
“For me, he got a pass mark in both of his first-up runs,” said Vandyke. “I not convinced yet that he is back to his best, but hopefully we will see an improvement on those first two runs back next week.”
As far any excuse was concerned last time when Alligator Blood was seen to knuckle quite badly at the start … Vandyke wasn’t offering one.
“I did see him knuckle at the start,” confirmed Vandyke, “Any argument about that is academic really. I don’t know if it would have had any effect on him, or whether it didn’t have any effect. At the end of the day we ran second and I don’t think he would have beaten the winner on the day.
“We are just looking forward now … and now he can compete in the Golden Eagle as Queensland’s Horse of the Year.
“That might put a bit more weight on his shoulders, but we know how brave and tough he is … and we know he will do us proud!”