Craig Williams aboard Giga Kick during the Everest win
With the dust settling on another brilliant year of competition we take a look at the top 5 performers of the Spring Carnival 2022.
5. Alligator Blood
Major wins - G1 Underwood Stake / G1 Champions Mile
Alligator Blood can cultivate a mixture of emotions for punters having been stripped of his Magic Millions win a few years back to most recently having ownership issues with Allan Endresz which nearly ruled the 6 year old from racing in the Spring Carnival.
It had appeared that it was all systems go for a big Spring Campaign after Alligator Blood won the Group One Stradbroke Handicap however the lingering issues with Endresz bankruptcy issues across the country meant that there was uncertainty over the gelding competing.
Once Endresz sold his majority share however Alligator Blood was cleared to race in the state, a chance that new co-trainers Adrian Bott and Gai Waterhouse took with both hands.
Alligator Blood would have a 6 start campaign in Victoria and come away with two Group One titles in the Underwood Stakes and Champions Mile as well as a runners up medal in the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes.
In the Underwood, on his third start of the campaign Alligator Blood would lower the colours of the likes of Zaaki, I’m Thunderstruck and Mo’Unga leading the punters to believe that he was a red hot chance to win one of the big three, the W.S Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
Alligator blood would unfortunately come up short in the Cox Plate but bounced back well to win the Group One Champions Mile on the last day of Carnival Week when defeating Tuvalu and Mr Brightside to win the $1m contest at Flemington.
There was a potential that Alligator may have not contested any Group One racing during the Spring due to the ownership issues stretching across state lines so to travel south of the border and claim to of the biggest Group One titles, he deserves a spot in our top 5 performers of the Spring.
4. Giga Kick
Major Wins - G3 Vain Stakes / G2 - Danehill Stakes / The Everest
The rise of this 3 year old gelding to the top has been nothing short of meteoric after only making his debut on the track back in February of this year when winning a maiden at Sale over 1100m.
Even rolling forward to the beginning of his Spring campaign Giga Kick opened up his account with a win in a two year old handicap at Flemington over the shorter distance of 1000m. At this point as a two start veteran Giga Kick would take on his first Group level when tackling the Group 3 Vain Stakes.
He would once again win that contest getting the bob on Alpha One. Again you stand still here and think well there’s plenty of races around in the state at Group 2 or Group 3 level that could be suitable for an undefeated 3 year old and after winning the Group 2 Danehill you’re still thinking the same.
It would be James Harron, the holder of the Everest Slot that saw Redzel jump twice to win the world’s richest sprint race, that would surprise the punters and select an undefeated 3 year old with only four starts to his name to take on the likes of Nature Strip, Eduardo and Masked Crusader in the 2022 edition of the race.
When Giga Kick lined up in the 2022 Everest most had backed Nature Strip off the map to go back to back in the race. When you look at the form lines Nature Strip had won a third consecutive TJ Smith last season, had a trip too and won at Royal Ascot as well as winning the same race in 2021.
It would be Giga Kick who would remain undefeated though as the 3 year old would win the Everest 2022 after a late burst through the field when carrying just 53kgs would see him get over Private Eye and Mazu late to win the $15m sprint feature.
On his return to Melbourne Giga Kick would fail in the Champions Sprint on the last day of the of the Spring Carnival however he did put on an impressive showing even on that day when weaving from near last to within a length of the winner in the final 200m.
With over $7m in earnings from 5 starts its hard to argue with Giga Kick not getting a spot in our top five.
3. In Secret
Major wins - G2 Run To The Rose / G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes
The Blue Army have had a significant Spring with a number of wins in the big Group Ones including with In Secret.
The daughter of I Am Invincible came with a hefty price tag at the Magic Millions sale in 2021, going under the hammer for $900,000 on the Gold Coast. Having now racked up a 6 start career, In Secret now boasts an impressive 4 wins and 2 seconds from her race track attendance.
Despite trialing back in February of this year In Secret only saw light work in the Autumn when winning a maiden at Hawkesbury before landing a Listed race at Scone in May before heading to the paddock to prepare for a big Spring Campaign as a three year old.
She would return to action at Group 2 level when tackling the Silver Shadow at Royal Randwick In August. Unfortunately that day a fast finish wouldn’t be enough to topple Chris Waller trained Zougotcha with the Godolphin runner finishing second on the day.
It would be her second start at Group 2 level that would get the punters going as In Secret would salute for the Royal Blue of Godolphin when $3.20 in the Run To The Rose at Rosehill. She would win by nearly a two length margin with many believing she was a live chance in the upcoming Golden Rose.
In the Golden Rose, she looked an all but certain winner but it would be Jaquinot who would this time pip the filly late. Her run that day was similar to the one in the Silver Shadow where she looked all but the winner by name and was beginning to look like a nearly horse with other Godolphin runners cleaning up across the border in Victoria.
The Coolmore Stud Stakes would be the race where she, under the ride of Jame McDonald would put the doubters to rest destroying a stacked field as a $3.10 favourite and finishing over 2 lengths clear of the chasing pack.
In Secret would finish her Spring campaign with four starts for two wins and two seconds with one win recorded at Group 1 level. As only a three year old i suspect we’ll be seeing more of In Secret during the Autumn with a potential look at the Golden Eagle on the cards during next Spring.
2. Gold Trip
Major wins - Group One Lexus Melbourne Cup
Well, where do you begin with this year's Melbourne Cup winner? Let’s go from 2021 where he should have started in the same race.
He was imported to Australia with the aim to run the then 5 year old in the race that stops a nation. He was ruled out contentiously after Racing Victoria Vets ruled him out after the opinion he was lame in his running.
Traveling from France Gold Trip only had one career win to his name at Group 2 level and had only finished in the places at G1 Level as well as a fourth in the Arc in 2021. RV chiefs held little regard for his previous form despite the lame running action being his natural action in previous tapes.
The RV ruling would leave Gold Trip with a long road back to the Melbourne Cup, however a run in the Listed Winter Challenge at Rosehill drove the ban to be lifted from racing in Victoria. From there he would race in the G3 Naturalism and G1 Turnbull Stakes looking to grow in each race.
It would be the Caulfield Cup, on the big track with the extra distance he would come into his own looking all but the winner as Durston came flying late to snatch another victory away from Gold Trip. At this point many had begun to write off any chances in the Melbourne Cup with career stats of 14 starts for 1 win.
Gold Trip though without Durston was the next best horse home in that race and depsite the Chris Waller runner being withdrawn from the Melbourne Cup punters began to look at other options.
In the Cox Plate though the average punter saw another finish down track go on Gold Trip’s CV however to a more studious eye, the tight track didn’t suit and once there was room Gold Trip looked to have plenty left in the tank to close in on the leaders.
With many thinking that the big track and extra distance could do the trick Gold Trip finally got over the line in front for the first time in a few years and only 12 months after his originally anticipated win.
It’s been a long road for Gold Trip who thoroughly deserves a spot in out top ten. Carrying top weight this year, could the French import be the first runner to go back to back since Makybe Diva.
Major wins - G1 Winx Stakes, George Main Stakes, Caulfield Stakes, W.S. Cox Plate
It was going to take something special to beat the Melbourne Cup winner to the top spot but you can’t argue with a near faultless Spring as well as 4 Group One wins in a row for Godolphin track star Anamoe.
Much like Gold Trip if we go back 12 months Anamoe had just finished second in the Group One Cox Plate in a grueling and battling finish to Irish Raider State Of Rest. Expectations were high after the Godolphin colt returned in fine form during the Autumn winning the Rosehill Guineas as well as the Hobartville in Sydney.
So when Spring came around there was only one expectation, which was for Anamoe to contest the Cox Plate but the question was whether he could win it and finish one rung further up the podium than he did in 2021.
He installed confidence in the punters straight away with a convincing win by nearly two lengths in the Winx Stakes when beating a solid field over 1400m when resuming. He would have a trial in between runs before knocking over another Group One title in the George Main Stakes.
Anamoe’s biggest win would come in the Group One Caulfield Stakes where he would beat home Cox Plate rivals Zaaki and I’m Thunderstruck to rack up a third Group 1 victory during the Spring. The win over Zaaki was seen as a challenge in itself with the Annabel Neasham trained runner who had been favourite for the race the previous year.
The 2022 Cox Plate win and a fourth Group One title in the Spring would be Anamoe’s crowning achievement. The colt would run over the line first beating home I’m Thunderstruck once againa as well as international competition from El Bodegon who’s stable held favouritism in the Melbourne Cup.
After his impressive win in the Cox Plate as well as amassing four Group One titles through the spring there is now talk that Anamoe may head abroad for his next challenge with the Royal Blue stable of Godolphin looking to showcase there talent from Down Under.