The final race offering a 2012 Melbourne Cup ballot exemption to the winner has been run and won at Flemington Racecourse this afternoon with a former Melbourne Cup favourite taking out the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), evergreen eight-year-old Alcopop showing they still had improvement in them despite their age.
Racing at their best at the grand old age of eight, the Jeune gelding scored a well-earned Group 1 victory for themselves and Victor Harbor-based trainer Jake Stephens.
While Alcopop is not still in contention for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) next Tuesday, there is an overhanging maybe that the horse could have been one of the main dangers in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
“There’s always maybes in racing,” today’s winning jockey Craig Williams, who replaced Alcopop’s regular rider Dom Tourneur for the ride, said after their Mackinnon victory.
Alcopop jumped favourite in the 2009 Melbourne Cup three years ago after their smashing early spring run but could only manage to finish 4.5 lengths away sixth to that year’s winner Shocking.
Since then they have nine more Group 1 races including the Mackinnon today where they finally entered the big time after so many honest seasons of racing.
Completing a fairy tale form revival Alcopop has been in career best form over the past month.
On October 13 they ran second to today’s beaten Mackinnon Stakes favourite Ocean Park in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) before their brilliant second when beaten only half a length by reigning Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last time out.
Back to the 2000m Alcopop thrived under the genuine staying race today’s Mackinnon became with the defending champ Glass Harmonium hitting the lead early and pulling away from the field giving them all something to chase home.
Glass Harmonium had a long five length lead at the 1000m, cornering well and trying to lead all the way.
Hot favourite Ocean Park, winner of the Cox Plate seven days ago, started to come home well but they were on the outside and forced to cover too much ground – unable to get to the frontrunners.
In a brilliant ride from Williams, who was aboard Alcopop’s last start conqueror Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup, he read the race perfectly and went to the inside with the eventual Mackinnon champ.
On the line it was the best stayer in the race Alcopop ($6) who got their first with a long neck to spare of a gallant runner-up Glass Harmonium ($14) while Ocean Park ($1.70F), now off to the paddock to prepare for a 2013 Dubai campaign, held on for third just under three quarters of a length off the winner.
It may have been Stephen’s first Group 1 victory today but for veteran hoop Williams the 2012 Mackinnon Stakes was his 58th Group 1 winning ride.
“Full credit to Jake Stephens and his team,” Williams said.
“He’s (Alcopop’s) an eight-year-old at weight-for-age, he was very stiff last time in the Caulfield Cup where he looked the winner.
“But Duanden’s an exceptional horse and hopefully we see that again on Tuesday (in the Melbourne Cup).
“That was an amazing race (today).
“There were a couple of horses I thought their big day’s going to be on Tuesday.
“That was a real tactical race…rewarding a horse like Alcopop.
“He loves his racing.”
Of the eight Mackinnon Stakes runners four were still among the 45 Melbourne Cup 2012 entries and the two that are assured of a Melbourne Cup start are Winchester and Zabeelionaire who sit 5th and 16th on the order of entry and who ran sixth and fifth respectively in the Mackinnon Stakes finishing order.
The last Melbourne Cup winner to come via the Mackinnon Stakes was the Bart Cummings-trained Viewed in 2008 who ran dead last (11th of 11) in the Victoria Derby Day classic behind Theso before beating home the Luca Cumani-trained Bauer by a mere nose in a photo Melbourne Cup result.
Meanwhile the Mackinnon Stakes winner was Glass Harmonium who ran 22nd, beaten 17.5 lengths, to Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup next start having failed to step up from the 2000m to the two miles (3200m).
Sixteen horses have completed the Mackinnon Stakes – Melbourne Cup double over the years the most recent of which were Let’s Elope (1991) and Rogan Jos (1999).
The official 2012 Melbourne Cup final field is due for release this afternoon and will be published right here at Races.com.au so stay tuned.
In the meantime check out the latest Melbourne Cup betting markets open at bookmaker.com.au who will be offering exclusive ‘Pick Your Own’ Melbourne Cup Day markets!
2012 Mackinnon Stakes Result & Finishing Order
Flemington Race 5 – 03/11/2012
|1||3||ALCOPOP||Jake Stephens||Craig Williams||–||5||59kg||$6|
|2||2||GLASS HARMONIUM (IRE)||Michael Moroney||Damien Oliver||0.3L||2||59kg||$14|
|3||7||OCEAN PARK (NZ)||Gary Hennessy||Glen Boss||0.7L||4||58.5kg||$1.70F|
|4||5||PRAIRIE STAR (FR)||Danny O’Brien||Ben Melham||1.95L||8||59kg||$18|
|5||8||ZABEELIONAIRE (NZ)||Leon Corstens||Craig Newitt||2.05L||6||58.5kg||$31|
|6||1||WINCHESTER (USA)||John Sadler||Jamie Mott||2.8L||3||59kg||$41|
|7||4||DECEMBER DRAW (IRE)||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||3.8L||1||59kg||$7.50|
|8||6||BACK IN BLACK (NZ)||John Steffert||Michael Walker||6.8L||7||59kg||$151|