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By Graham Potter | Friday, August 27, 2021

The Gold Coast, August 27 - what a day out for the David Vandyke stable!

It wasn’t just the case that Vandyke claimed three winners from four starters on the day … although that simple fact was good enough in itself … but rather it was a special moment in the last of those wins that highlighted a day of success.

Desert Lord went into the Listed Goldmarket having won three of his seven starts since transferring to Vandyke from the Team Hawkes yard. A further important point of form reference was Desert Lord’s close-up third placing in the Listed Glasshouse when finishing just over a length behind King Of Hastings, a runner who had finished right behind the likes of Away Game and Exhilarates in his previous start in the Group 3 W J Healy.

But while Desert Lord started as a strong fancy as second favourite at $3.70, the main focus of the race was on a former Vandyke trained star, Alligator Blood (who drifted out to $6.50) who was returning in his first run for his new trainer after a long layoff. Vandyke had handled Alligator Blood in supreme fashion guiding the son of All Too Hard all the way up to Group 1 winning status, but now the horse that Vandyke had put so much time into lined up as an opponent … so there was always going to be a story within a story if Desert Lord were to drown out fanfare surrounding Alligator Blood’s long-awaited return with a star rated performance of his own.

Early in the home straight the ‘green caps’ … the Alligator Blood fan-club … were still in full voice though as the five-year-old, after holding a handy position in fourth behind the tearaway leaders Racecourse Road ($3.60) and EF Troop ($8.50), looked set to produce a telling challenge along the inside as the leaders came back to the field.

Those cheers were short-lived though as Totally Charmed ($10), who had to search for a run early in the straight, ducked back towards the inside and surged past Alligator Blood. Meanwhile Michael Cahill was now producing Desert Lord with a strong finishing burst down the centre of the track … and he had the $10 chance Tramonto coming with him..

Cahill had tracked Alligator Blood in the early part before switching into clear running four wide on the bend. In the home straight Desert Lord’s willing gallop carried him to the front inside the last 100m and on to a 0.40 length victory with the ever game Tramonto still snapping at his heels all the way to the line.

Totally Charmed had third place sewn up, comfortably ahead of the fourth placed Alligator Blood who finished 3.90 lengths behind Desert Lord.

It should be noted that every runner received a 7kg weight advantage over Alligator Blood, who carried the steadying burden of 61kg … so Alligator Blood’s run must be weighed up in that context … but a win is a win and the smile on the faces of Desert Lord’s connections showed that this feature race win was pretty special.

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Photos: Ross Stevenson and Graham Potter
Photos: Ross Stevenson and Graham Potter
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