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By Graham Potter | Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Trainer Billy Healey remains an important on-going moving part in the strategy that has taken Alligator Blood from surgery to the Group 1 winners’ enclosure.

After his back operation, Alligator Blood went to Healey’s base at the Sunshine Coast for a period of rehabilitation and the proposed move to the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable, which had already been announced, was then put on hold as Alligator Blood’s owners agreed to give Healey the chance to train and race Alligator Blood.

Ultimately, three runs later, Plan A was reinstated with the horse moving to race under the Waterhouse / Bott banner, but the ownership group still hailed Healey’s contribution to the cause and they have kept him in play.

“I wasn’t at Eagle Farm on Saturday,” said Healey. “I had been at the Gold Coast where I had a runner, but I was back home in time for the race.

“It was great to see him back in form. That was all we wanted to see.

“A lot of people have bagged him over time… and I guess it has been a long time coming for him … but horses don’t just bounce back after that long a time off in five minutes, particularly with what he had gone through. He’s just done an incredible job in getting back to where he is now.

“We did our best with him and tried to build his fitness up. Looking at it realistically, in the three races we had with him in Queensland we knew he was never one hundred percent. He was still making bis way back and, to a point, he was always playing catch-up at that time.

“I think he was centred on the Stradbroke … that was what the connections always talked about when looking ahead … and for them to get him there on the day in the condition he was, he probably proved a lot of doubters wrong.

“He is an incredible horse when he is one hundred percent. I think we all saw that on Saturday.

“It was a good feeling watching him. It was a good field and he put them to shame pretty easily. If he draws an alley and gets an easier run, he probably wins by further.
"There is no doubt he is back to his best.

“You’ve got a horse like Private Eye trying to chase him down … what is he, an Epsom winner … so you know they are good horses.

“I would have to say I think that is his most devastating win. I know he won good races as a three-year-old, but on Saturday he took on true Group 1 horses and beat them quite easily from an ordinary gate with an ordinary passage.

“There is no doubt he is a genuine Group 1 horse.

“I was at home cheering for him for sure. I actually thought at about the 600m that there was no way this horse is going to get beat. You just know with him … sort of the way he travels … you can pick up pretty quickly where he is at.

“That’s why I kept on saying, early days, when he had a couple of runs up here, he was just always at his top the whole way and fitness was against him with the big weights.

“It was always going to be interesting to see what he did after he was given more time and a bit of a break in-between.

“He could only improve coming off that time out of action (as he did first-up in the BRC Sprint and then on to the Stradbroke) … and I think he can only get better.

Nine times out of ten horses don’t come back from very serious setbacks, but it just shows that horses like Alligator Blood are very special horses. They’ve got a will to win and that is all there is to it.

“I’m just a very, very small pin in a big machine. There is a lot of people that have got to be thanked for it all. On my side, those thanks have got to go out to all of my staff, the riders … Brooke Pender and Kelly, my partner … you know, they looked after the horse for so long like it was their own.

“We all wanted to see him win another Group 1 and he has got that now … and I don’t think he is going to stop here.

“He comes back to the farm now … and he will probably spend a few weeks at the farm with us before he will probably head to the Spring in Melbourne.

“Whatever happens next, the horse is a superstar. You just can’t get away from it!”

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Billy Healey
Billy Healey
Alligator Blood ... the 2022 Stradbroke Handicap winner
Alligator Blood ... the 2022 Stradbroke Handicap winner
Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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