Alcopop’s chances in the Group 1 HK$22m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday have been boosted with shock scratching of race favourite Cirrus Des Aigles.
Multiple French group 1 winner Cirrus Des Aigles was the short price favourite for the Cup after running second to the undefeated Frankel in the Group 1 £1.3m The QIPCO Champion Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs) at Ascot on October 20.
But the top French galloper was withdrawn this morning after undergoing a veterinary examination which revealed a left fore tendon injury.
The Jake Stephens trained Alcopop has firmed to $9 while locally trained California Memory has taken over the top spot in the betting at $3.60 ahead of the French pair Saonois ($5) and Giofra ($5.50).
Internationally acclaimed jockey Craig Williams gave a glowing report to connections after riding Alcopop in trackwork on Thursday morning and is looking forward to repeating their win in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 3 when they team up on Sunday.
“I was really happy with him,” Williams said after trackwork.
“I didn’t want him to do any more than slot into a nice rhythm and teach him where the winning post is.
“He felt very sharp and he was very comfortable going this direction.”
“He hasn’t been this direction for a long time but he handled it perfectly and felt right at home doing it – it was nice work and I’d say he’s right where you’d want him to be.”
Stephens was happy to receive the positive report from Williams and declared that the eight year old is ready to go after having a rousing gallop last Saturday.
“He’s fit, he’s well,” Stephens said.
The scratching of Cirrus Des Aigles has also made the job easier for California Memory to win back to back Hong Kong Cups and trainer Tony Cruz was feeling comfortable after drawing barrier one, the same gate as the grey had last year.
“It’s a good sign that we’ve got the same gate as last year!” said Cruz.
As well as drawing a good barrier Cruz was very pleased with the seven year old after working home the final 800m in 57.8s and the last 400m in 26.4s on Thursday morning.
“I’m very happy with him and everything is going according to plan. He’s in excellent condition for Sunday,” Cruz said.
Local jockey Matthew Chadwick will again be aboard California Memory after striking up a great association which saw the pair take out last year’s Hong Kong Cup.