Jake Stephens’ gallant old Aussie galloper Alcopop has enjoyed another late career highlight catching the eye at Sha Tin on Sunday when finishing a brave third behind California Memory in a star-studded Hong Kong Cup 2012.
The Normanville-based Jeune eight-year-old, beaten favourite for the 2009 Melbourne Cup when sixth to Shocking, has had a hit and miss career plagued by injury and lengthy spells.
Stephens however is riding on a high with the in-form Alcopop who has enjoyed a career best season.
Second in two Group 1’s at Caulfield during the spring including to Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup, Alcopop enjoyed their maiden elite level victory in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day before being sent to Hong Kong for this year’s International Race Day.
Going out as a $20 chance in the HK$22 million Group 1 The Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m), Alcopop rewarded Stephens’ patience and faith again when Craig Williams guided them to an excellent third in a race that ran without hot favourite Cirrus des Aigles who withdrew with injury on Friday.
“You’d never think that a horse eight years could recapture some of that form and probably be up to career-best. It’s ridiculous really,” Stephens said.
“I would have liked him to be doing that for the last three years. I don’t know what I’ve changed but I’m going to keep doing it.”
Local hot shot and defending champ California Memory completed The Longines Jockey Club Cup – Hong Kong Cup double with a nice one length victory over Alain de Royer Dupre’s English filly Giofra, who came off a third in the Prix De L’Opera in France, while Alcopop crossed two and a half lengths off the winner to finish off the trifecta.
California Memory was ridden by Matthew Chadwick, also aboard for their victory in the same prestigious race 12 months ago, the hoop describing the feeling of going back-to-back in the Hong Kong Cup as “unbelievable.”
“It’s unbelievable, the best feeling in the world,” Chadwick said.
“Lane one was a great draw, the best draw you could pick.
“He jumped out of the gate then it was a question of being patient. He put it to bed in three or four strides.”
As for where-to-next with Alcopop Stephens said they would not back up in the autumn but would give the grand old horse the chance to fully recover from their international campaign before coming back for a possible shot at Dubai World Cup night at the end of March.
“That’s pretty ambitious and we do want to give him that bit of a rest over summer and autumn,” Stephens told TVN.
“For us to get him up and fit enough to get him to Dubai would take a fair bit of work on some pretty hard ground.
“He’ll get a good holiday now and we’ll just see how he comes up. He’s eight years old and his joints are not getting younger.”
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