Alcopop to take on the stars
Trainer Jake Stephens is leaning towards taking on So You Think and Whobegotyou with Alcopop in Saturday’s Yalumba Stakes ahead of the easier option in Sunday’s Cranbourne Cup.
Alcopop was one of 35 nominations for the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) and the highest-rated horse in the Listed race with a handicapping rating of 106.
But the small field in the Group One Yalumba (2000m) makes more appeal to Stephens.
“Personally I’m leaning more to the Yalumba so he can have another look at the track at Caulfield,” Stephens said.
“It looks like it’s not going to be a huge field, obviously it’s going to be a very good field.”
Mark Zahra rode Alcopop for the first time in a race when the Jeune six-year-old ran a solid fifth to Precedence in the Group Three JRA Cup (2040m) at Moonee Valley, which was his third run this campaign, and will ride him again on Saturday.
“If he can get a run in the Caulfield Cup, dropping down from the 59kg (in the Yalumba) to 53.5kg will be quite appealing as well,” Stephens said.
“He’s had a few hiccups along the way but he’s pulled up really well and that run was a good turnaround from the start prior to that.
“I expected him to improve and he’s still got a bit of improvement in him.
“He galloped really well on Saturday.”
Alcopop burst onto the scene last year when he won four straight races including the JRA Cup and the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield.
He started favourite in the Melbourne Cup and finished sixth to Shocking.
Alcopop has raced only five times since with two failures in Sydney in the autumn.
Stephens said the gelding had been plagued by a high white blood cell count although he believes he has him right now.
“He’s a light-framed style of horse. Last year he was never that heavy and this year we’ve kept a bit of weight on him to try and peak him at the right time,” Stephens said.
“Hopefully that will come into fruition now.”
Apart from Cox Plate favourite So You Think (Steven Arnold), Bart Cummings will saddle up Empires Choice in the Yalumba while other runners include Master O’Reilly (Dwayne Dunn) and New Zealander Red Ruler (Mark Du Plessis).