The pressure is off Queensland trainer David Vandyke as he prepares his star three year old Alligator Blood for his return to Melbourne in the Group 3 $160,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Vandyke took Alligator Blood to Melbourne for the 2019 Spring Racing Carnival and the All Too Hard gelding scored a comprehensive win in the Group 3 $250,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield before going down by the narrowest of margins in the Group 1 $2m Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield again.
Alligator Blood was then set for the $2m Gold Coast Magic Millions 3yo Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January and Vandyke said that he did feel the pressure of saddling up the $1.80 favourite as he was expected to win.
Vandyke had nothing to worry about with Ryan Maloney steering Alligator Blood to a comfortable two lengths win in the glamour three year old race.
“It was different in the Magic Millions as he had to win that race and was odds-on favourite. If we get beaten, we’re going to be beaten by a very smart horse,” Vandyke told the Herald Sun.
“It’s completely different. If we finish second or third to Catalyst and or Super Seth, if he runs, then it’s still going to be a great effort and there’d be no shame in that.”
Boom Kiwi three year old Catalyst and is also among the nominations for the C S Hayes Stakes while trainer Anthony Freedman looks likely to miss the Flemington contest against his own age and run his Caulfield Guineas winner, Super Seth, against the older horses at weight for age in the Group 1 $500,000 Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 22.
Vandyke has reported that Alligator Blood has settled into his Melbourne surroundings with a minimum of fuss and is in great shape for the C S Hayes Stakes.
“My boy is in great shape,” Vandyke said.
“He galloped nicely. He worked three-quarter pace over 1000m and then galloped up from the 400m and worked nicely.”
After the C S Hayes Stakes, Alligator Blood will head to the Group 1 $1m Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on February 29 and is also leading the voting in the $5m The All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield on March 14.
Early betting for the 2020 C S Hayes Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.50 Alligator Blood, $2.80 Catalyst, $6 Dalasan, $8 Soul Patch, $14 Chenier, $15 Spend, $19 Warning, $21 Conqueror, $26 Groundswell, $51 Big Parade, Vegas Knight, Yourdeel.