Mackinnon Stakes winner Alcopop will head to Hong Kong to represent Australia in the Group 1 HK$22m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 9.
The Jake Stephens trained eight year old will join multiple Group 1 winning sprinting mare Sea Siren and Melbourne Cup – Caulfield Cup winner Dunaden in Hong Kong after all three gallopers secured Group 1 victories during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Alcopop was rewarded for his consistent Spring form and after being runner-up at Caulfield twice in Group 1 company in the $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and the $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), the rejuvenated gelding was able to win his first Group 1 in the $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 3.
Stephens had had the Hong Kong option in the pipeline for a while but admitted that Alcopop had to prove himself over the Spring to warrant a trip overseas.
“We’ve been considering it for a while,” Stephens said.
“We had to inoculate him a while ago. They say it can flatten them for a bit, but there have been no problems with him.
“We’ve kept him in. I didn’t want to let everyone know too early because he had to win a Group 1 for us to go. It’s exciting stuff.
“He’s had an easy week after that and then a good hit-out at the track yesterday,”
“The owners are thrilled. It’s one of those once in a lifetime opportunities to get him on the big stage like that.”
Alcopop returned to racing this Spring after a long lay-off of almost a year in between runs with a seventh at Morphettville in the Group 3 $115,000 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on August 11 but didn’t return to his best form until he returned Caulfield for the Caulfield Stakes at his fifth start back.
Big race jockey Craig Williams will stick with Alcopop in Hong Kong after replacing regular rider Dom Tourneur before winning the Mackinnon Stakes on Derby Day.
Tourneur has been aboard Alcopop for nineteen of his thirty-three starts and missed out on the Group 1 victory when connections decided to replace him with Williams after riding the eight year old to two consecutive seconds at Group 1 level leading up to the Mackinnon.
Williams will also be on Dunaden in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) after winning this year’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 20 on the top international galloper.
And Jim Cassidy will partner the John O’Shea trained Sea Siren in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) after the pair combined to win the Group 1 $500,000 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 26 before running second to Mental in the Group 1 $1m Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.