It had echoes of a prize-fight showdown and the CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) clash between Alligator Blood and Catalyst duly lived up to its billing as the star three-year-olds shared a stirring two-horse battle.
Alligator Blood was headed several times in the straight before fending off Catalyst by a head in a mouth-watering prelude to the Australian Guineas and All-Star Mile.
“That will go down in history that race, the little Queenslander fighting back off the canvas,” trainer David Vandyke said after Alligator Blood’s ninth victory from 10 starts. “They are a couple of stars those two.
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Alligator Blood (right) held off Catalyst to score a thrilling win in the CS Hayes Stakes. Picture: AAPSource:AAP
“When Catalyst got to him I thought we were going to run second.
“I was watching the sectionals and they were going hard before the corner and he was sort of softened a bit by Catalyst early.
“They were going stride for stride — he just got the edge the last 50m and showed his class.
“Wow, that’s his best performance.
"Alligator Blood has beaten Catalyst, bring on the Guineas!"
The rivals were stride for stride up the straight in an epic battle for the CS Hayes Stakes. @FlemingtonVRC pic.twitter.com/AyXa47UWuM
“We’ve never seen him go head and head with another horse, he usually gets there pretty quick and he’s dominant.
“They didn’t muck around, some of the sectionals were pretty slick and you can’t go much quicker than what they did on a soft track.”
Trainer David Vandyke plants a kiss on Alligator Blood after his gutsy win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Reminiscent of the 1986 Cox Plate war between Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star, Alligator Blood and Catalyst raced together from the 1200m to the post.
“He (Alligator Blood) was headed multiple times but he is true to his name,” jockey Ryan Maloney said.
“It feels like a Group 1 (win) — I can’t be more proud of this horse and after we went a furlong I said to James McDonald that it was a match race.”
Originally published asFirst blood to Alligator in epic battle
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