Alligator Blood’s jockey Ryan Maloney is not approaching the Australian Guineas as a two-horse race between his horse and Catalyst.
While the recent C S Hayes Stakes developed into a match race between Queensland star Alligator Blood and New Zealander Catalyst, Maloney has a healthy respect for their rivals.
Alligator Blood and Maloney are striving for their first Group One wins in Saturday’s Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington after coming agonisingly close in the Caulfield Guineas last spring when chased down by Super Seth.
Catalyst has already ticked the Group One box in the NZ 2000 Guineas but came off second-best in to Alligator Blood in the Group Three C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington two weeks ago.
They are the two favourites for their highly anticipated return clash in Saturday’s Australian Guineas, with Catalyst $2.60 on race eve and Alligator Blood $3.10, with Maloney focused on giving Alligator Blood every chance to excel over the 1600m.
“I certainly won’t be riding my race to try to beat Catalyst because nine times out of ten when you think you’ve got one horse to beat it’s usually another one that comes out and beats you,” Maloney said.
“I think it’s a lot more wide open than a two-horse race. You’ve got Chenier who was closing on us the other day, so he looks perfectly suited at a mile.
“Alabama Express comes off a good last-start win doing it tough and beating the older horses.
“I think you can throw a blanket over them.
“My bloke is versatile. You can put him wherever. This time around I’m a lot more confident going into the mile than I was in the G1 Caulfield Guineas.”
Maloney believes a more mature Alligator Blood is now better at conserving his energy.
Alligator Blood’s only defeat in 10 starts was in the Caulfield Guineas, his only try at 1600m.
He kicked clear in the straight but was chased down by Super Seth who was wide on the track and out of his line of sight.
“At the 200 metre mark I was four lengths clear. I looked at the big screen and I thought ‘here we go, first Group One’,” Maloney said.
“And my heart sank because I saw Super Seth coming out wide. I got stuck into my bloke and if anything he half resented it because he thought his job was done and he never saw Super Seth.
“It wasn’t to be unfortunately.”
The 34-year-old, who moved from Victoria to Queensland in 2018, says it would mean a great deal if he could claim his first Group One win in the Guineas, especially on Alligator Blood at the headquarters of Melbourne racing.
“There’s no bigger stage than Flemington,” he said.
“It would mean a huge deal, especially the story behind him and the opportunity they have given me.”