Two big name Melbourne Spring Racing candidates from South Australia headline the Morphettville racing line-up this Saturday with Alcopop and Rebel Raider set to face off in the 2011 Spring Stakes.
The opening black-type race of the season in Adelaide, the $115,000 Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) drew 17 nominations including Jake Stephen’s one-time Melbourne Cup favourite Alcopop.
The now seven-year-old Jeune gelding was the fairytale story of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival three years ago, Alcopop winning a string of Victorian features including the JRA Cup and Herbert Power Stakes.
Their brave wins saw them race up the Melbourne Cup odds in 2009, but despite the hype and devastating form Alcopop could only manage to finish four and a half lengths away sixth to that year’s Melbourne Cup winner, the now-retired Shocking.
A quality stayer Alcopop has failed to reach the same heights as their 2009 spring preparation, their best result since being second to the now Irish-trained dual Cox Plate winner So You Think in the 2010 Yalumba Stakes.
Alcopop has raced in four elite levels since the Melbourne Cup, with disappointing results in all but the Yalumba including their last start 13th to Shocking in the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 12.
Strathalbyn-based Stephens is hoping this campaign will see the return of the old Alcopop starting with Saturday’s Spring Stakes.
“He looks good, we’ll nominate him for the big ones (Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate) and let the horse tell us where he wants to go,” Stephens said.
Alcopop was today nominated for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) to run on October 15 and the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 with early entries for these spring features released this afternoon.
After failing to race competitively at the highest level, Alcopop’s latest victory being a narrow one in the Listed Kilmore Cup (1600m) in February, current Cox Plate betting markets have them at $81.
Futures Caulfield Cup odds on Alcopop are slightly shorter at $51 while for the 2011 Melbourne Cup, Stephens to pay the nomination for his horse by September 1, Alcopop is rated a $41 chance for the Flemington feature on Tuesday November 1.
Rebel Raider is another Spring Stakes contender with a story to tell and a point to prove, the Reset six-year-old to start in their first-up race since September last year.
Plans for Rebel Raider to retire and serve at stud were shelved earlier this year and now co-trainers Leon MacDonald and Andrew Gluyas are ready to bring the 2008 SA Derby – Victoria Derby double winner back into the spotlight.
Other exciting horses entered for the Spring Stakes on Saturday include the Mark Kavanagh-trained Group performing mare Valentine Miss and premier Victorian trainer Peter Moody’s classy five-year-old Avenue.
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