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David Vandyke with Alligator Blood
Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Trainer David Vandyke with Alligator Blood

If you look on social media, the dust has yet to settle on the breakup between trainer David Vandyke and the owners of Alligator Blood with many people still seemingly keen to weigh in on the matter.

But that story is well and truly over.

Apart from the fact that the announcement came at a time when Alligator Blood is facing surgery for a ‘kissing spine’ problem, some have believed, rightly or wrongly, that this ‘parting of the ways’ outcome was inevitable given the extreme contrasting nature of the characters involved in the training and ownership groups.

Trainer David Vandyke has emerged out of a troubled past as a man of quiet resolve … a gentleman in manner. There is no indication of self-importance, no fanfare of achievement, no need to impress.

In a previous poignant interview in a World Horse Racing video, Vandyke spoke about his relationship with horses and how that relationship has helped him so much in life.

“The horses were my go-to during my turbulent years,” said Vandyke. “Meeting a horse where it is and connecting to it and spending time with it can be a real teacher. It can show us how little we need to be at peace.

“We get fostered to feel that we need more all the time … be it through commercialism, the media … but the horse is often so at peace with next to nothing. They might some hay or a bit of feed or a drink of water, but they don’t need the ‘more’ that we always believe we need (to be at peace).

“To spend time with a horse … to take a horse for a walk, for a swim or go to the track with it, there is a connection away from materialism, away from success which is hard to describe.”

Clearly, Vandyke loves his horses and loves the peace they bring him.

Contrast that philosophy with the super hype attitude of one of Alligator Blood’s owners who, over Alligator Blood’s time on the track, has pushed almost every media opportunity possible to promote his horse … and it can arguably be suggested that you already had a recipe for unsettled waters with a storm always likely to brew.

There is no criticism in there. Each to their own … absolutely … but it needs to be remembered that, when you take your flamboyance out into a public arena, you set yourself up as fair game as Allan Endresz has found out.

He seemingly does not care about the many adverse comments directed at him … and why should he? Again, his reaction is his prerogative.

However, the point is that enjoying surfing on a media wave, with all of the associated noise and bluster, as opposed to simply hanging out taking in the quiet life lessons that a horse can teach you in some degree of solitude, are attitudes so far removed from each other that, arguably, the only way they can come together is when they collide.

Having said that, it should be noted that the factor of diverse personalities has not been mentioned with regard to the termination of the trainer/owner relationship … but it arguably wouldn’t have helped when push came to shove.

In fact an explanation of sorts of the reason for the breakup has been given on social media on the Alligator Blood page, referring to a clash between the other two owners of Alligator Blood and Vandyke’s foreperson … a situation which, according to that description, ‘festered’ to the point where (as has been reported) Vandyke chose to tell the owners to remove Alligator Blood, and other horses in the stable under the same ownership, from his stable.

The fine points of that supposed alleged personal argument don’t matter.

The fact is the outcome is final … marking the end of a relationship which, it should be remembered, enjoyed plenty of good times!

And nobody should worry too much about it. Both the trainer and the owners will land on their feet.

We should all just be hoping that the same applies to Alligator Blood whose recovery period after surgery for a ‘kissing spine’ … all being well … is expected to take four to six months.

*Kissing spines refers to a condition in horses in which two or more of the spinous processes (the flanges of bone sticking up from each vertebra in the spine) are positioned so that they touch or rub against each other.

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