Adelaide trainer Richard Jolly is confident his South Australian Derby hope Alcohol has peaked at the right time and is ready to run a tough 2500m at Morphettville tomorrow.
Alcohol is having his fifth run this campaign heading into the Group 1 $500,000 three year old classic and Jolly knows he has the Bianconi gelding at peak fitness for tomorrow’s assignment.
“Fitness-wise, I’ve always trained to peak him at his fourth or fifth run in, which was the whole plan months ago. I’m really happy with him,” Jolly said.
Jolly was starting to get a bit concerned when Alcohol could only manage an eighth at his third run back from a spell in the Listed $80,000 Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) at Morphettville on April 14 but his the smile returned to his face when the three year old showed what he was capable of last start.
After settling midfield, Paul Gatt was able to get Alcohol into the clear and finished strongly when a half length second to roughie Heaven’s Riches in the Group 3 $115,000 Chairman’s Stakes (2000m) at Morpettville last week.
“His first couple of runs, he wasn’t ready – he shouldn’t have started favourite in his first race. He was on a derby preparation and was as fat as a pig,” Jolly said.
“He wasn’t really ready to fire until the Port Guineas and, as it turned out, he had an excuse. I’m just relieved he’s run up to how I thought he was going.”
Jolly has taken his time with the three year old and knew he had a horse with some staying potential when he won a 1600m three year old Handicap at Moonee Valley last December.
Gatt will once again be aboard and is looking to get a good run just better than midfield from barrier five and is confident he will stay the 2500m.
“His run the other day was full of merit. He’s drawn a good gate thankfully. He’s going to lob somewhere in the first half of the field and get every chance to stay the trip,” Jolly said.
“You go into these races and there’s always a query with them backing up and a query on them at the 2500m – it looks like he’ll get it, but until they do it, you never know.”
“There’s plenty of them in it who won’t stay, so at least he’s drawn to get a good run so it gives him every chance.”
“We’ve just set him for this, we’ve drawn a good gate, we’ve hit form, so we just cross the fingers basically.”
Jolly’s confidence isn’t reflected in the betting market with bookies posting Alcohol at $21 alongside of Western Australian three year old Lethal Jones.
The Anthony Cummings trained Strike The Stars and the Leon Corstens’ Zabeelionaire share favouritism at $4.20 ahead of the Tohunga ($6) from the powerful Gai Waterhouse stable.
Waterhouse is looking to secure another Group 1 win with Tohunga after taking all before her over the Sydney Autumn Carnival with seven Group 1 victories.
Tommy Berry will make the trip to Adelaide to partner the Zabeel gelding who showed good staying potential with wins over 2100m at Gosford and 2000m at Kembla Grange.