Alligator Blood claims Group 1 Underwood Stakes

Alligator Blood ridden by Damien Oliver wins the Group 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield. (Photo by Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

Damien Oliver has kicked-off his farewell tour with a bang, taking out the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) aboard Alligator Blood (+240), giving one of the greatest jockeys his 129th Group 1 victory in the process.

The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained galloper was on the one-week backup after running a bold second behind Mr Brightside in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), proving a masterstroke by the stable, with the now seven-year-old gelding saluting in back-to-back editions of the race.

Oliver had no choice but to take a sit in behind the speed after missing the start, and favourite backers may have been disgruntled to see the on-speed galloper take the sit.

It turned out to be an ideal position, however, letting the speed go, leaving Tuvalu (+650) and ‘The Blood’ fighting out the finish, with the latter getting the better at the post.

2023 Group 1 Underwood Stakes Replay – Alligator Blood | T: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott | J: Damien Oliver

It was Group 1 win number six for Alligator Blood and co-trainer Gai Waterhouse was on course to combine with Damian Oliver once again, speaking on their relationship, as well as discussing the next step for Alligator Blood.

“He’s not going to go out without a bang is he,” exclaimed Waterhouse.

“He’ll be like Frankie Dettori.

“It was a fabulous win today.

“He got shuffled back to fifth, had to come three-wide and then he got into that lovely rhythm.

“He was fabulous.

“We may got to the Turnbull, but we’ll just wait and see, we backed him up today and gives us a few more options.

“We want to be at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day.”

Oliver spoke about defying the instructions of the camp prior to the race, but had no choice with the way the race unfolded.

“She was adamant wanted him to lead,” said Oliver.

“But I just felt on his back today he was a little quieter on the seven-day backup and he just wasn’t as sharp from the gates today.

“I just had to wait and hold my nerve a little bit until they settled and I was able to go up outside the lead, but it was a great effort by a horse that’s so tough and resilient this horse has been over a long period of time.

“He held them off really strongly.”

Alligator Blood is now a +1200 chance in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) to be run on October 28.

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