David Vandyke admits to a few unknowns with Alligator Blood in $7.5m race

David Vandyke has been mulling over the wide barrier and predicted rain before Saturday’s Golden Eagle, but more broadly, whether Alligator Blood has taken the next step necessary to win the $7.5 million race.

Alligator Blood is an easing $7 chance with Ladbrokes after drawing gate 15 on Tuesday. He’s also unknown on genuinely wet ground, which seems certain to be the case come Saturday given the Sydney forecast this week. So it’s very much an unknown equation for Vandyke with his reigning Queensland Horse of the Year.

“I’ve gone into races with him and been confident and he’s ticked all the boxes before the gates opened. That’s not the case now,” the trainer said.

“We’re sitting in a big grey area. I would like to think he’s going to run a good race, I would like to think he’s going to win, but I’m not confident, I’m just hoping.

“After the Australian Guineas, if I said he will get beat his next three starts, you would have thought something had to be wrong for that to happen.

“He hasn’t put in an exceptional performance, they have been pass marks.

“We really need to see improvement for him to win the race, plus handle the track and needing luck from the barrier.”

Asked if he still has the same faith in Alligator Blood he did at the start of the year, Vandyke said “faith is a broad term” and it’s more a question of entering the unknown as a four-year-old.

“He’s tried hard his last two starts. I’ve seen that,” he said.

“The horses he raced against earlier this year, a lot of them have dropped off the radar and he himself had a long arduous career as a three-year-old. So is he back to his best and how good is his best?

“Maybe his best isn’t good enough to win the Golden Eagle. But I think because it’s pretty much a new group of horses he’s racing against, Saturday will tell us a lot about where he’s at this season.”

Vandyke said he “wouldn’t have a clue” whether Alligator Blood will handle a wet surface, although the fact he’s not an overly long striding horse, coupled with him being an athletic, not bulky, horse, might help.

COVID-19 restrictions mean Vandyke has had to train Alligator Blood from afar since he arrived in Sydney, which leaves him a little in the dark.

He has called on the services of his former assistant trainer, vet Michael Robinson, to make daily visits, but it’s not the same as being there yourself.

“I hate not being there, not so much for raceday, but for the lead-up, because I’ve been very hands on with him,” he said.

“I look at him every day and I will make decisions off the back of what I see. At the moment I’m not seeing anything, except a video, an E-Trakka trace and comments from those around him down there.

“An assessment on any horse is a very personal thing and the way I assess him will be slightly different to the way anyone else will assess him.”


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Funstar, Alligator Blood camps sweating on barrier draw for $7.5m race

The Funstar and Alligator Blood camps are more concerned about the barrier draw than the likely track conditions for the $7.5 million Golden Eagle on Saturday.

Sydney’s second richest race is expected to have a capacity field of 18 for the Rosehill Gardens 1500m feature, which makes Tuesday’s barrier draw so crucial.

With a forecast of rain all week, Rosehill will almost certainly have a soft-heavy track surface but star jockey Tommy Berry, who rides favourite Funstar, believes it is the barrier draw which holds the key to the Golden Eagle.

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“The barriers for this race are going to be very important,’’ Berry said. “It can be a tough run from the 1500m start if you are wide at Rosehill.

“I rode Brutal in the Golden Eagle last year, he drew wide and it was very costly.

“Funstar is a versatile mare, she can be ridden forward or back, she has led before and won, so that makes it a bit easier.

“She beat Probabeel on a heavy nine over the Rosehill 1500m in the autumn so the track conditions are one thing we don’t have to worry about. But it would be nice to draw a gate so I can put her somewhere without having to ask too much of her early.’’

Funstar, who is very effective on soft and heavy tracks, is the $4.50 TAB Fixed Odds favourite for the Golden Eagle. Alligator Blood is next in betting at $5 even though he has never raced on a track rated worse than a soft 5.

Trainer David Vandyke admitted he is unsure how Alligator Blood will handle a wet track surface.

“There is not much we can do about the weather,’’ Vandyke said.

“I was hoping for a good surface but these days I just roll with the punches, it is what it is.

“But with 18 runners, the mud will be flying everywhere. I hope we can draw in close so that gives Ryan (Maloney, jockey) some options.’’

Berry has picked up the ride on the Chris Waller-trained Funstar, who goes into the Golden Eagle after her close second in the Epsom Handicap earlier this month.

He rode the mare in a trial last week and will partner her in a fast track gallop at Rosehill on Monday morning.

Alligator Blood also comes off a last-start second behind Godolphin’s Flit in the Silver Eagle. Vandyke said Alligator Blood will have a fast workout on Tuesday before “tapering off” ahead of Saturday’s Golden Eagle.


Flit leads trainer James Cummings’s formidable three-strong team for the Golden Eagle.

Godolphin is likely to have three starters in the big race with ATC Australian Oaks winner Colette and emerging talent Criaderas also likely to take their place in the field.

Cummings isn’t concerned about the likelihood of a wet track as Flit and Colette have raced well on heavy surfaces previously while Criaderas ran on powerfully late to run second behind Cuba in deteriorating conditions at Randwick last Saturday.

Flit and Colette are certain starters but Criaderas way down in the order of entry and in danger of missing a start.

Trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott have no concerns about their Golden Eagle entries Riodini and Dawn Passage making the cut as the duo are equal first in the order of entry.

Riodini comes out of the Epsom where he ran third to Probabeel and has since won a Gosford barrier trial easily in preparation for the Golden Eagle.

Dawn Passage resumed with a third placing in the Silver Eagle and then impressed Waterhouse with his closing third in a Warwick Farm barrier trial last week.


The Australian Turf Club is planning to host a Golden Eagle crowd of about 6000 at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

The coronavirus pandemic has kept punters away from racetracks around the world but ATC has been able to get some fans on track during the Sydney’s spring carnival, including nearly 11,000 for The Everest.

ATC chief executive Jamie Barkley said the club works closely with the NSW Government and Racing NSW to ensure their raceday attendances comply with COVID guidelines.

“Our staff have not missed a beat and continue to embrace the concept of racing differently,’’ Barkley said. “We have had many contingency plans since we immediately responded to COVID in February and March and our staff have been driven to keep racing going.

“Every team member has contributed to making this happen and have also managed extra race-days due to the transfer of provincial meetings. Great credit is also due to our ATC members who have supported racing during these past few months.’’

In Brisbane, crowds of about 3000 have attended the past two Saturday race meetings but the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley over the weekend was run before empty grandstands.

The four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival, which starts with Derby Day at Flemington on Saturday, will also be a fan shutout after Victorian premier Dan Andrews announced on Sunday he was delaying lifting lockdown restrictions until at least November 1.


Peltzer validates Ryan’s lofty opinion

Boss warning: Cox Plate win ‘tip of the iceberg’


Peltzer’s late-spring carnival form surge culminating with his dominant win in the Bondi Stakes has given co-trainer Gerald Ryan reason to be optimistic about the three-year-old’s big-race chances next autumn.

Ryan, who trains in partnership with Sterling Alexiou, said Peltzer will be aimed at the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) next autumn after his colt ran out a strong mile to win the Bondi Stakes convincingly.

With successive wins in the Stan Fox Stakes and Bondi Stakes to end his spring campaign, Peltzer proved he is a three-year-old of obvious talent.

But Peltzer will need to keep improving – as Ryan believes his colt can do – if he is to measure up to the best of his generation next autumn, namely Golden Rose-Caulfield Guineas hero Ole Kirk.


Hall of Fame jockey Glen Boss has locked in Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet as his ride in the Melbourne Cup next week.

Sir Dragonet can’t be penalised for his Cox Plate triumph which means he will carry 55.5kg in the Melbourne Cup, run at Flemington on November 3.

Boss famously rode Makybe Diva to her unprecedented Melbourne Cup hat-trick in 2003-04-05 and if he can win the race again, he will join Bobbie Lewis and Harry White as the only jockeys to win the race four times.



Peltzer was all class winning the Bondi Stakes but it was Icebath that dominated the last that stole the show. Icebath was beautifully placed by trainer Brad Widdup and finally with some luck raced away winning with consummate ease looking like a good mare. It won’t be her last win.
There were a lot of forgivable runs on a day hard to make up ground on a wet track. Criaderas was a beaten odds on favourite but I thought he produced one of his best performances in retrospect considering how much work he had to do from a mile back.
I don’t know how high the bar will be set for the Provincial Championships winner Through The Cracks but his return to racing with improvement to come was admirable.
Tommy Sherry made the right moves on the last favourite Icebath but it was Winona Costin’s winning double that stood out. WInona hasn’t been riding much in town of late having had an injury-plagued career but given the opportunity she showed her talent with two perfect winning rides on a feature day.


Monday: Newcastle

Tuesday: Hawkesbury, Grafton

Wednesday: Kensington

Thursday: Gosford, Sapphire Coast

Friday: Moree, Wagga Wagga

Saturday: Rosehill Gardens, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Tumut

Sunday: Goulburn, Muswellbrook

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