By Andrew Adermann
Alligator Blood is one of the nation’s biggest stars and his appeal extends beyond the racecourse.
The three-year-old gelding is a winner of nine races from 10 starts – including the recent Magic Millions 3YO Guineas – earning more than $2 million in prize money along the way.
It’s a portion of that prize money in which owner Allan Endresz has pledged to a horse he once owned named Rancho Montoya, who is now pursuing an equestrian career post- racing.
Endresz and Alligator Blood’s group of owners have committed $10,000 to their old friend, ensuring he is able to stay with Team Rafiki Equestrian and continue his training, while being well-looked after in the process.
“Julie and her husband, who run Team Rafiki, didn’t want any money but we wanted to make a tangible contribution, and now we are starting to map this out a little more and hopefully provide some ongoing support,” Endresz said.
“My wife and daughter have been involved in equestrian for 20-odd years, so I have a lot of experience in that space and we knew that’s where we wanted him to go.
“Ultimately, we want to put more pressure on existing owners and trainers to ask the question about what happens post-racing to these racehorses.
“We couldn’t be happier, they absolutely love him down there and to see him living is best life is amazing.
“He’s a beautiful horse, with a beautiful nature and now he can enjoy the beach in a magnificent environment.”
Rancho Montoya, affectionately known as Chappie, raced in the colours now made famous by his compatriot Alligator Blood, chalking up two wins and five placings over 13 starts.
A foot injury prematurely ended his racing career in early 2019 as a five-year-old, however Chappie’s future was in good hands after a chance meeting between Endresz and Team Rafiki’s Julie Bramucci two years ago.
“We met Allan and Joy a few years ago at an equestrian event in Albury and after we got to know each other a little more, I said to him that if his horses are ever looking for a home post-racing then to please keep me in mind,” Bramucci said.
“Chappie had done really well for them but after his foot injury, they didn’t want to keep pushing him and see him break down again.
“Being the amazing people they are, they gave him to me knowing the lifestyle here at the beach by the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria would best suit him.”
Chappie has been with the team in Saint Leonards, east of Geelong for almost a year now, and in that time has been slowly adjusting to his new life and surroundings.
“There’s a fair bit of upkeep with horses, so this donation from the Alligator Blood team is enormous for us,” Bramucci said.
“Chappie is competing on the weekends in Werribee, and he’s won and placed at lower level in showjumping – the lovely thing is though that everyone involved aren’t worried about how he goes, just that he is happy and has a purpose.
“He is the most fantastic horse, I absolutely love him and it means the world to me that I can give him his forever home.
“I would love to encourage people to think about that life after racing, in that there are so many avenues available for horses post-retirement.
“They’re magnificent creatures and I would love all owners to take the lead of Alligator Blood’s owners and show an interest in their animal’s life after racing.”
Endresz echoed Bramucci’s sentiments, and hopes that other owners can follow his vision to ensure that these animals live a purposeful and fulfilling life after their racing careers come to an end.
“Alligator Blood is going to be the driver for people to see what racing is all about,” he said.
“We could’ve sold him for a lot of money but we may never see another Al, and we can consciously know that we are making a difference to the industry doing something about what happens to racehorses when they finish their career.”
Chappie will no doubt be watching his mate Alligator Blood this weekend, as he prepares for a tantalising re-match with star rival Catalyst in the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington.
The pair met for the first time two weeks ago in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes, creating an instant rivalry as nothing separated them down the entirety of the famous Flemington straight before the Gator stuck his neck on the post to claim victory.
The re-match promises to be just as enthralling, with a potential third head-to-head taking place on March 14 in the All-Star Mile at Caulfield.