A Monday morning canter on the all weather track at Sha Tin was enough to tell trainer Jake Stephens that his old stager Alcopop was ready to be competitive in Sunday’s Group 1 HK$22m Longines Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin.
Alcopop has regained the kilos he lost on the flight to Hong Kong and is back to his racing weight and has settled in well alongside new ‘girlfriend’ Sea Siren and Stephens has reported all is well with the eight year old.
“He’s in good shape,” Stephens said.
“I know there were reports he lost a lot of weight on the flight but it was more in the couple of days after he arrived.
“He had weight on him which he could afford to lose. He’s only lost what he needed to.
“He’s eating up well and he’s now close to his ideal racing weight, which is perfect.”
The John O’Shea trained Sea Siren is in Hong Kong chasing victory in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) on Sunday and Alcopop has mated up with the triple Group 1 winning mare.
“He was kicking and squealing this morning which is a good sign,” Stephens said after yesterday’s trackwork.
“This is a strange environment for him but he’s ‘palled up’ with Sea Siren and now he’s doing well. He needs the companion and I doubt we would have come had he been on his own.”
Alcopop has finally matured as a genuine Group 1 performer in his latter years and after being placed twice at Group 1 level in the Melbourne Spring Carnival broke through for his initial Group 1 win in the $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 3.
Top carnival jockey Craig Williams has retained the ride on Alcopop in Hong Kong after taking over form Dom Tourneur in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Tourneur was the regular rider for 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.