A glowing report from jockey Craig Williams has boosted the confidence of connections of Alcopop leading up to Sunday’s Group 1 HK$22m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.
The international jockey will ride Alcopop on Sunday and made the trip to Sha Tin to partner him in trackwork on Tuesday morning and even though the eight year old wasn’t asked to race the clock, Williams was more than pleased with the workout.
“I was really happy with him,” Williams said.
“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.”
Trainer Jake Stephens was happy to receive the positive report from Williams and won’t have to do much more with the gelding this week after having a rousing gallop last Saturday.
“He’s fit, he’s well,” Stephens said.
“He had a really solid gallop here last Saturday when he ran his last 600m in 34 seconds and broke 11 seconds for the last 200 metres so we didn’t have to run any time.”
“We didn’t want him to do too much more than even time. It was more about just getting him more familiar with the track and the winning post.”
It was the first time Williams had been on Alcopop since the pair took out the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 3 and the top jockey is sure that the gelding will be competitive on the international stage.
“The Mackinnon ticked that box, and he’s got the form line through Dunaden with the second in the Caulfield Cup, albeit in a handicap,” Williams said.
“But Australian horses have often come here after they’ve had their grand final at home and it doesn’t work, you won’t beat top horses which have targeted the race – but this is Alcopop’s grand final and that gives me some confidence.”
Williams was on Alcopop for the first time in the Mackinnon Stakes replacing regular rider Dom Tourneur and produced a first class rails hugging ride to lift the eight year old to his first Group 1 win topping off a good Spring following two seconds at the top level at his two previous runs.
Tourneur partnered Alcopop through most of his career and was aboard in the early part of the Spring when second to Ocean Park in the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 13 and again when second to Dunaden in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield the following week.
Ironically Williams was on Dunaden as he sailed past Alcopop in the run to the line in the Caulfield Cup and the widely travelled international jockey will be aboard Dunaden again chasing back to back wins in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Alcopop is currently a $12 chance in the Hong Kong Cup with French galloper Cirrus Des Aigles the early favourite at $2.70 ahead of local galloper California Memory at $5 with the other French runners Saonois at $7.50 and Giofra at $9.