It has been a career best season for Jake Stephens’ always-honest eight-year-old Alcopop this spring with more milestones to come as the eight-year-old prepares for their first international assignment in the 2012 Hong Kong Cup next month.
The Jeune gelding, one-time favourite for the Melbourne Cup two years back, caught the eye at Caulfield three starts ago when they produced a slashing late run to finish second behind Ocean Park in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) as a $20 roughie.
Victor Harbor-based Stephens declared the horse ready for a big Caulfield Cup run then much to the amusement of a number of doubters who believed the best racing days were behind Alcopop.
They silenced the critics in the $2.65 million handicap next time out however when Alcopop came within a half-length of last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Duanden.
Finally Alcopop broke their Group 1 duck last start when holding on in a tight finish to beat home Glass Harmonium in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on Derby Day when ridden by star Aussie hoop Craig Williams for the first time.
Now Stephens is eyeing an even bigger prize taking advantage of the horse’s good form and striking while the iron is hot taking them over to Sha Tin for the $2.7 million Hong Kong Cup (2000m) on December 9 – Williams booked for the ride again.
“He’s performing so well that there’s no reason not to go, and more reason to go,” Stephens said.
“This will be his first preparation where he’s gotten through to this position unscathed, so fingers crossed he can keep going.
“It’s not like with a normal horse where if something goes wrong with them in the spring, you can bring them back whenever.
“When you’re at that level and looking to win those bigger races, they only come around once a year.”
Stephens also said they would be beefing Alcopop up for the trip to ensure they were in the right condition come race day.
“We’ll try to have him 15 to 20kg heavier before we leave, just to have that up our sleeve,” Stephens said.
“On the flight they can lose a couple of per cent of body weight, which is 10kg, no problem.”
The Aussie punters have plenty to be excited about in the Hong Kong International Races this year with John O’Shea’s impressive Manikato Stakes winner Sea Siren also confirmed for the famed meeting due to run in the Hong Kong Sprint.
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