Bloody close: How Alligator made it on time
Emma Lehmann and Tara Pitt were able to share a quiet moment with Magic Millions Guineas hero Alligator Blood on Sunday, a world away from the mayhem that gripped the pair 24 hours earlier.
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Instead, she and Pitt navigated the back blocks of the Coast, while constantly in contact with trainer David Vandyke.
"The trip normally takes two hours and 15 minutes, but David got us to leave three hours before we were due there," Lehmann said.
"We were cruising along but then the traffic started to slow. Then it came to a standstill.
"At first Tara and I joked about it, then it was a feeling I can't even describe when we both realised we were not going to make it.
"There was just so much going through my head. We had worked so hard to get this horse to this race and there was so much resting on us getting the horse to the track. We didn't know what to do. Even today reliving it in my head, it's unpleasant.''
Lehmann said the presence of Pitt, who was second in the 2017 series of Australian Survivor, was a saving grace for her own mental state.
"We told David to go to the stewards. There was 57 phone calls backwards and forwards and numerous screen shots of the map sent through, trying to figure out which way to go," she said.
"I was really grateful to have Tara there. Originally I was going on my own.
"It was only the last minute she decided to come with me and she definitely showed her Survivor skills!
"Coming up to the Helensvale exit, we had to make a decision on whether to exit or stay on the highway. The Navman kept saying highway, it was six of one, half a dozen the other.
"In the end we needed to make a decision. She said, 'Yes, we exit'. She knew we could get there on a back road if we took it.''
After four and a half hours, the truck arrived on course, much to the relief of Vandyke, jockey Ryan Maloney and connections.
"We all know what it's like to have that anxiety when you're running late for an event, but when there's a $2M race and the eyes of the racing industry are upon you, it was an amazing job," Vandyke said.
EVEREST, EAGLE ON ALLIGATOR'S MENU
David Vandyke has put immediate plans on ice for the next 10 days, but has flagged a possible tilt on The Everest as Alligator Blood heads to a 2020 grand final of October's Golden Eagle.
Vandyke had intended to take Alligator Blood to Melbourne for a tilt at the Australian Guineas and while that option is still on the table, he is wary of going to the well too many times too early.
"He was a bit dusty (Sunday) morning. He travelled eight hours all up on Saturday," Vandyke said.
"I will assess him in the next week-and-a-half before I make any commitment as to continuing on with a trip to Melbourne.
"He's a gelding, we want to look after him, we want to see him racing in the long term.
"It's been a big few months but we can all take a sigh of relief. If he never raced again, he's done it now.
"He's won a $2 million race, he's won at Group level, he's just done a fantastic job and we're all very proud of him."
Jockey Ryan Maloney said he would not have predicted the heights Alligator Blood had reached when he first rode him, but now believed the sky was the limit.
"I genuinely think he's going to be a really good weight-for-age horse," Maloney said. "It has been a great ride and thank God he's a gelding and he won't be getting sold to any studs."
While Vandyke is yet to lock in where Alligator Blood will head next, the long-term goal remains the same.
"The Golden Eagle is too good an opportunity to knock back. He's a gelding, prizemoney is the big thing for him," he said.
"I wouldn't shut the door on The Everest and it's worth considering.
"The thing he's shown us in these last three starts, is that he can get to the leaders very quickly. He has an exceptional turn of foot at the pressure point in his races.
"Ryan said once he gets to the front he can feel him backing off.
"He doesn't know where the bottom of him is, because wherever he has the opportunity to chase he does so."
Maloney said it was a sense of relief when the gates finally opened on Saturday, after fearing it wouldn't eventuate when rivals jockeys jibed him about Alligator Blood likely being scratched.
"When the horse was replated and then another one went through the gates, I thought 'geez are they ever going to run this race?' But all's well that ends well," he said.