Alcopop's change of luck

Sportal October 19, 2012, 11:14 am
Track Work

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Luck finally seems to be going the way of South Australian trainer Jake Stephens with his popular eight-year-old gelding Alcopop as he bids to become only the second eight-year-old in the past 80 years to take out the Caulfield Cup.

Alcopop and Stephens, who trains from the coastal town of Victor Harbour, first burst onto the Australian racing scene three years ago when the then five-year-old horse won the traditional Caulfield Cup lead-up event - the Group Two Herbert Power Handicap.

Alcopop would have started favourite in the Caulfield Cup that year had he run, but Stephens had not paid up for the horse and thus he was an onlooker as Bart Cummings' Viewed went on to win the race.

But Alcopop started favourite for the Melbourne Cup that year as Stephens' heart-warming story - the trainer had never even been to Melbourne before bringing Alcopop over - captured the hearts of the once a year punters Australia wide as a small-time trainer from South Australia took on the established big guns from Australia and Europe.

Alcopop would run a brave sixth in the Melbourne Cup, beaten by the horse that had finished second behind him in the Herbert Power Handicap - the Mark Kavanagh-trained Shocking.

The following spring, Alcopop again put himself in the Caulfield Cup picture by running second at weight-for-age in the Group One Caulfield Stakes over 2000m to Cummings' dual Cox Plate winner So You Think a week before the Caulfield Cup.

But luck deserted Stephens as he then drew barrier 22 for the Caulfield Cup and a week of torrential rain made the track bottomless for the Cup as Alcopop - a noted dry-track horse - floundered to run unplaced behind Gai Waterhouse's Descarado while he then broke down last spring and missed out on running in the cups.

However in 2012, things finally appear to be falling into place for Alcopop, Stephens and his regular jockey in Adelaide battler Dom Tourneur.

Not only did Alcopop again run a slashing second in the WFA Caulfield Stakes (behind Ocean Park) - as he did two years ago - but this time around he is not only set to get his preferred dry going in the Caulfield Cup but he has also drawn perfectly in barrier nine.

It's no wonder Stephens can hardly contain his excitement heading into Saturday's Caulfield Cup as Alcopop finally gets his chance to win Australia's second greatest handicap race.

"I am very happy," he said of Alcopop's ideal barrier for Saturday.

"It's a bit different to two years ago drawing 22 and the weather is looking good so the track is certainly not going to be a Heavy 10 like it was two years ago."

Alcopop is also the weight horse of this year's Caulfield Cup as he drops a staggering 6.5kg to just 52.5kg for Saturday's race after carrying 59kg last week at WFA when a gallant second to Ocean Park.

And Stephens told ''TVN'' that race was the perfect preparation for Alcopop for the Caulfield Cup.

"That race being a sit and sprint affair didn't take much out of him," he said.

"It was great preparation for the Caulfield Cup and I don't think it's beyond him winning the race, everything is looking good."

However history is certainly against Alcopop in terms of his age.

The last eight-year-old to win the race was the English galloper Taufan's Melody in the roughhouse 1998 Caulfield Cup but before that you have to go all the way back to Phar Lap's great rival Amounis, who won the 1930 Caulfield Cup as an eight-year-old.

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