Turf star chases Australia’s richest pay day
TRAINER David Vandyke is planning an audacious clean sweep of Sydney's spring riches with his stable star Alligator Blood in what could be the richest fortnight in Australian racing history.
Alligator Blood, who already has more than $2 million in career earnings, could dwarf that amound in the space of a fortnight in Sydney where he stands to collect an astonishing $11 million pay day.
Three-year-old Alligator Blood proved again he was a horse with a huge future by scoring a hard-fought win in the CS Hayes Stakes at Caulfield on the weekend.
Now, such is Vandyke's confidence in Alligator Blood's tactical speed, he is already planning on setting his outstanding gelding the ambitious spring double.
The $15 million The Everest is run at Royal Randwick on October 17, while the $7.5 million Golden Eagle is due to be held a fortnight later at Rosehill Gardens.
"I'm looking at the sectionals they ran (in the CS Hayes Stakes) and I thought he wouldn't be out of place in The Everest and he can then head to the Golden Eagle,'' Vandyke said.
"They are two very rich races coming up in the spring and they could be his next targets after this preparation.''
First prizemoney for The Everest will rise to around $7 million this year, while the winner of the Golden Eagle, a race for four-year-olds, earns $4.1 million.
Vandyke said he studied the sectional times of Alligator Blood's stirring win over Catalyst in an epic CS Hayes Stakes before revealing his Everest-Golden Eagle ambitions.
Alligator Blood led throughout to edge out Catalyst, recording a final 600m sectional of 33.61s which was faster than Gytrash's 33.61s to win the Group 1 Lightning Stakes.
"It is just amazing that a group of three-year-olds over 1400m are running a quicker last 600m than the Group 1 over 1000m - you just wouldn't hear of that on the same day,'' Vandyke said.
Alligator Blood and Catalyst share favouritism at $2.80 for their much-anticipated rematch in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on February 29.
The only other horse under double figures in early Guineas betting is Hayes Stakes minor placegetter Chenier who will be better suited at 1600m and can make a race of it with Alligator Blood and Catalyst.
Racing NSW is expected to announce this week who will secure the vacant The Everest slot held by embattled owner Damion Flower.
But this isn't the only Everest starting position up for grabs with one slot-holder negotiating to sell for a considerable profit on their $600,000 per annum slot investment.
It is understood there is also at least one major international racing operator that wants to make a long-term financial commitment to The Everest.
Flower's Everest slot became available last year after he was arrested and subsequently charged with drug importation offences.
He is currently in prison awaiting trial after a bail application to the NSW Supreme Court was denied last December.
Godolphin was able to secure Flower's slot in a one-year deal last spring. Their sprinter, Trekking, ran third in The Everest behind Yes Yes Yes in course record time.
But as speculation continues around which slot-holders want to trade or sell their Everest slots, one stake-holder has reiterated his commitment to the rich Randwick race.
"We are in The Everest for the long haul,'' said slot-holder James Harron.
"The race is in a real 'sweet spot' right now when you consider the potential returns. We are pretty exciting about the coming year and The Everest prizemoney increasing to $15 million.
"Only last week we renewed our slot-holder agreement so we are locked in for the next three years at least.''
Harron, who correctly selected inaugural 2017 The Everest winner Redzel (2017) for his slot, said he is already considering possible sprinters for run in the rich race later this year.
Trainer James Cummings intends separating the Group 1 race programs of the Godolphin stable's established weight-for-age stars Alizee and Avilius.
Cummings told Big Sports Breakfast Weekend that Alizee is likely to be set for the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 7 while Avilius runs next on the same track in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) a week earlier.
Alizee returned to top form with a brilliant win in the Apollo Stakes last Saturday convincing Cummings the glamour mare is ready for Group 1 racing again.
"She out-muscled a pretty good horse in Dreamforce,'' Cummings said.
The Godolphin trainer said he is reluctant to run Alizee and Avilius against each other particularly early in their autumn carnival campaigns.
"While Alizee could run a big race in the Chipping Norton she could also look very good in the Canterbury Stakes,'' Cummings said.
"I think 1300m is probably the better trip for her and that will be a great 'feeder' into the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) for her.''
Avilius resumed with a good fifth to Alabama Express in the CF Orr Stakes earlier this month with Cummings indicating the gelding will return to Sydney for the Chipping Norton Stakes.
"He will look really good there after a solid first-up run when he zoomed to the line from a long way back,'' Cummings explained.
Alizee and Avilius are both prominent in early betting for the All-Star Mile at Flemington on March 14 but neither appear likely to start in the race.
Cummings seems more intent on keeping Alizee to shorter races for the time being with the Canterbury Stakes and George Ryder Stakes penciled in for the glamour mare while the return of Avilius to Sydney for the Chipping Norton Stakes lessens the chances of the gelding being sent on another interstate trip for the All-Star Mile.
Tommy Berry's appeal against a riding suspension will be heard on Thursday. The star jockey is hoping to be clear to ride Cellsabeel in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The nation's best staying three-year-olds Castelvecchio, Shadow Hero and Warning are set to clash in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes.
When the likes of Godolphin's top three-year-old colt Microphone are added to the mix, the Hobartville Stakes is shaping as an exciting contest.
The Australian Turf Club will begin distributing more than $150,000 and 1700 hay bales to bushfire-impacted racing industry participants at Moruya.
The money was raised during the ATC's Bushfire Appeal raceday on January 25 with the club ensuring it is quickly distributed to those in need.
Funding will also be provided to BlazeAid to purchase materials locally to rebuild fencing while the hay bales will be distributed to the Cobargo and Moruya district.