Hall of Fame trainer Gai Waterhouse has declared Alligator Blood her “best chance in a long time” of winning an elusive Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley this Saturday.
It’s considered Australasia’s weight-for-age championship, a contest for the racing purest but it’s the one major on the Australia racing calendar that Waterhouse is yet to win.
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“I don’t know what it is. Dad (Tommy Smith) won it seven times but I just haven’t had any luck in it,” Waterhouse said.
“I’ve won seven Golden Slippers, seven Metropolitans, seven Doncasters but zero Cox Plates.”
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The Australian Grand Slam has traditionally been; Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
In more recent times the term ‘Golden Grand Slam’ has been coined, where the key difference is the addition of The Everest.
Alligator Blood produced a career peak rating when he took out the Group 1 Might And Power Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield last start.
Gai Waterhouse with jockey Tim Clark and Alligator Blood after the Might and Power Stakes. Credit: Getty Images
Ratings experts Punting Form say Alligator Blood’s Caulfield romp was 19 lengths faster than the national benchmark for 2000m races.
Their database shows Anamoe won the Cox Plate last year rating just 12 lengths above national benchmark. In fact, if you take out Winx, almost every Cox Plate over the past decade has rated inferior to Alligator Blood’s Might And Power win.
But the big query is; can he hold that peak rating? Shrewd judges know horses typically go flat after such a massive performance.
“Yes that is true but you have to remember this bloke thrives on pressure,” Alligator Blood’s jockey Tim Clark said.
“I flew to Melbourne last weekend and rode him in trackwork on Saturday morning and said to Gai he’s improved off that win.
“You can’t just put a blanket rule over every horse, you have to assess them case by case and he’s definitely one that bucks the usual trend.”
The Cox Plate speed map suggests Alligator Blood will either lead or sit second, something that Clark believes will work in his favour.
“I’d rather be up there than out the back looking for runs,” he said.
“That’s the beauty of this horse. He almost always puts himself in the best position.
“And when you do that and have the fighting spirit he does, it’s easy to see why he’s won 15 of his 33 starts.”
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