Sydney jockey Tim Clark couldn’t have asked for a tougher ride to have his first race at Sandown on Sunday.
Clark has never been to Sandown but will need to quickly get to grips with the spacious track before riding Alligator Blood in Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Alligator Blood will take on a small but select quintet of weight-for-age performers with all six runners in the top-proven $1 million contest.
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“Sometimes lack of numbers doesn’t mean lack of quality and that’s definitely the case on Sunday,” Clark said.
“Apart from Anamoe, you probably have the next four favorites for the Cox Plate.
“It should be a great race.”
Clark will also face outstanding rival jockeys with Jamie Kah, Mark Zahra, Craig Williams, Nash Rawiller and Jordan Childs all plotting each other’s defeat.
In typical Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott style, Alligator Blood will likely be in the line of fire with Zaaki for most of the race.
Alligator Blood and Tim Clark (right) are taken down by I’m Thunderstruck and Mark Zahra in the Makybe Diva Stakes. Photo: Vince Caligiuri – Getty Images
Clark said pace is more important than tempo in Alligator Blood’s first test beyond 1600m.
“I don’t think they’re going to go too fast, but they’ll find their place and there probably won’t be too much movement for much of the race,” Clark said.
“He has a nice turn of foot if he gets into the right rhythm.
“So it’s about getting him to relax, flow and accelerate well.”
TAB rated Alligator Blood as the fourth pick of the six $7 Underwood Stakes runners with Zaaki as the favorite at $2.40.
Part of this quote could be the bookmakers’ doubt about Alligator Blood running over 1800m given that he was knocked down by Golden Eagle winner I’m Thunderstruck over 1600m in the last Makybe Diva Stakes start.
However, Clark expects All Too Hard’s son to pass another exam before heading to next month’s Cox Plate over 2040m.
“He’ll run the 1800 (m) pretty hard, I think,” Clark said.
“Yeah, he just got run over a mile the other day, but he beat the others by four (lengths) and it took a really good run to take him down.
“He’s proven himself at weight-for-age now and I think he’ll improve a bit more after the Flemington race.
“I can’t wait to get back to him.”
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