Trainer Jake Stephens has no regrets that Alcopop will miss this year’s Melbourne Cup even though the eight year old is racing in career best form.
Stephens elected not to aim Alcopop towards the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington next Tuesday, deciding to target the shorter staying races in the Spring.
“I think he’s shown his turn of foot and brilliance at 2000m and in the Caulfield Cup at 2400m so I’m happy to keep him around the mark,” Stephens said.
“His gallop on Saturday was phenomenal, he probably blew a little more than I would have liked on Tuesday but it was a bit warm.”
Stephens’ trump card is Craig Williams who will take over from Dom Tourneur in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington tomorrow after Alcopop looked to have the Caulfield Cup in his keeping before Williams on Dunaden swooped down the outside to deny him a Group 1 victory.
Alcopop’s second in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 20 came after a courageous second to Ocean Park in the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 13.
Alcopop will again be up against Cox Plate winner Ocean Park and Stephens is hoping the magic of Williams will be enough to turn the Caulfield Stakes result around.
“We’re having another crack, hopefully the Cox Plate took the wind out of his sails but he’s going to be a tough horse to beat that’s for sure,” Stephens said.
“It’d be nice to turn the tables on him because I think in the Caulfield Stakes we were a little unlucky.”
“I just hope they get moving along a bit and he can finish off.”
Stephens admits that Alcopop isn’t at his best at Flemington with no placings from three runs on the track, and is worried that his swift turn of foot might not be suited to the long testing straight.
With that in mind, Stephens was very pleased to gain the services of Williams whom he hopes will be able to time the eight year old’s run to perfection.
“The whole reason behind that was going to Flemington where there a slight question mark over Alcopop there,” Stephens said.
“He’s never been at his best when he’s run there but his turn of foot lends itself to the slightly tighter tacks.”
“It’s not an easy track with that long straight and Craig knows Flemington, when to push the button and when to take it easy.”
Alcopop is holding down the second spot in the market at $5.50 with Ocean Park dominating the betting at $1.55.
The Mark Kavanagh trained December Draw is the only other runner under double figures at $8.50 with last year’s winner Glass Harmonium at $11.