The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Australia’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse finally secured her first success in Brisbane’s richest race co-training Alligator Blood alongside Adrian Bott to win the 2022 Stradbroke Handicap.
For Gai it was her 150th career Group 1 as the former Queensland-trained Alligator Blood ran out of his skin, finally putting controversy behind him to take out this year’s Group 1 $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) under the sun at Eagle Farm.
“150 Group 1s for Gai now, Gai’s first Stradbroke and Alligator Blood back to his best,” stable representative, the always colourfully dressed Neil Paine, said speaking to Sky Thoroughbred Central after the 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 up here in Brisbane have worked overtime to get this horse right.
“I was telling the owners before he’s just such a happy horse and a great horse to do anything with. We’re rapt that we’ve got him and he’s come back to his best.
“We were a bit wary first up two weeks ago but when he put that run on the board, he had improved so much since. Tim Clark came up and rode him on Tuesday and said this horse is flying.
“He looked at treat in the yard, it’s just incredible that Gai and Adrian could get him back to where he is.”
The Stradbroke result was the now five-year-old son of All Too Hard’s second Group 1 success and his first victory since taking out the Australian Guineas over the mile at HQ as a three-year-old back in February of 2020.
With plenty of subsequent issues, Alligator Blood had been only lightly raced since, but returned to form last start when debuting for the Waterhouse/Bott stable running a devastatingly close second in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1300m) here on May 28.
He was drawn wide that day for jockey Tim Clark out in gate 15 of 16, and was wide again in the Stradbroke jumping from 17 of 18 in the famous handicap clash.
Clark did not panic, allowing the horse to settle back in the field as popular local Queenslander, Rob Heathcote’s former JJ Atkins winner Rothfire moved up to take the lead.
Rothfire lead onto the turn and into the straight with the Tony Gollan-trained mare Isotope going after him, but all eyes quickly went to the middle of the track where Alligator Blood was running home well.
Charging home over the final furlong, Alligator Blood ($11) stormed up and took over, going on to hold out the luckless Joe Pride-trained Private Eye ($17) who was caught with nowhere to go before running out of time.
“He began well but as expected there was a fair bit of tempo and not only did I not have the horse to be in that speed battle I knew if I attempted to be with them I’d have nothing left at the end,” winning hoop Clark said after the race.
“So I was able to slide across back in behind them and it ended up working out lovely. I got the back of Ayrton and that horse took me everywhere I needed to go.
“On straightening it was a matter of just being patient, letting him build through his gears and I thought all he has to do is find off the bridle.
“He showed a great turn of foot. I haven’t had a lot to do with the horse’s career but that was a pretty special performance.
“I rode him first up here and obviously he went terrific. I came up and worked him on Tuesday, he’s a pretty casual horse so he did as much as you’d expect him to do but with that run under the belt he had taken that bit of improvement.
“I was a bit dejected when he drew that barrier but it panned out beautiful for him.
“Great to ride another Group 1 winner for Gai and Adrian. Gai’s 150th and first Stradbroke. I’m sure they’d be stoked.”
Rounding out the Stradbroke Handicap trifecta was the front-running Rothfire ($11) who held for third.
The hard luck story out of the race after suffering interference at the top of the straight was the well-backed Eleven Eleven who eventually walked home last some 16 lengths beaten.
2022 Stradbroke Handicap Results & Finishing Order
|1||5||ALLIGATOR BLOOD||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Tim Clark||17||55kg||$11|
|2||1||PRIVATE EYE||Joseph Pride||Brenton Avdulla||1L||1||57kg||$17|
|3||9||ROTHFIRE||Robert Heathcote||Tommy Berry||2.75L||16||54.5kg||$11|
|4||15||ISOTOPE||Tony Gollan||William Pike||3.75L||4||52.5kg||$9|
|5||18||STARTANTES||Robert Heathcote||Taylor Marshall||3.95L||12||50kg||$41|
|6||16||BROOKLYN HUSTLE||Jason Warren & Dean Krongold||Craig Williams||4.25L||18||52kg||$16|
|7||11||AYRTON (NZ)||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Ms Jamie Kah||4.45L||15||54kg||$8|
|8||17||VILANA||James Cummings||Ms Stephanie Thornton||5.45L||6||50.5kg||$13|
|9||2||LAWS OF INDICES (IRE)||Annabel Neasham||James McDonald||5.65L||10||56.5kg||$10|
|10||10||I AM SUPERMAN (IRE)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Sam Clipperton||6.05L||14||54.5kg||$26|
|11||12||BANDERSNATCH||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jason Collett||6.25L||9||54kg||$51|
|12||7||EMERALD KINGDOM||Robert Heathcote||Kerrin McEvoy||7L||2||54.5kg||$26|
|13||3||APACHE CHASE||Desleigh Forster||Jim Byrne||7.2L||3||55.5kg||$11|
|14||13||NICCANOVA||Steve Tregea||Anthony Allen||7.4L||13||53.5kg||$61|
|15||6||SOXAGON||Mark Currie||Brad Stewart||9.65L||8||54.5kg||0.5kg||$19|
|16||8||WILD PLANET||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jay Ford||9.85L||11||54.5kg||$101|
|17||14||BUFFALO RIVER (USA)||Michael Moroney||Ms Rachel King||10.05L||7||53.5kg||$41|
|18||4||ELEVEN ELEVEN||Gregory Hickman||Hugh Bowman||16.55L||5||55.5kg||$6.50F|
|23e||FRANKIE PINOT||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Barend Vorster||0|
|21e||FLYING CRAZY||Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou||0|
|19e||SCALLOPINI||Steven O’Dea & Matthew Hoysted||Boris Thornton||0|
|20e||RANCH HAND||Chris Waller||Jay Ford||0|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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