Mackinnon Stakes winner Alcopop will represent Australia in the Hong Kong Cup and his trainer says he’ll be beefing up for the trip.
Jake Stephens said the eight-year-old, who has been plagued by injuries and setbacks throughout his career, was continuing to please him following his successful spring campaign in Melbourne.
“This will be his first preparation where he’s gotten through to this position unscathed, so fingers crossed he can keep going,” Stephens told AAP.
“It’s not like with a normal horse where if something goes wrong with them in the spring, you can bring them back whenever.
“When you’re at that level and looking to win those bigger races, they only come around once a year.”
Alcopop returned to his best form this spring, twice finishing runner-up at the top level before claiming his first Group One win in the Mackinnon Stakes on Derby Day.
Stephens has been conferring with other trainers, veterinarians, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club about conditions on the ground as he prepares his first runner for the $2.7 million Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin on December 9.
“We’ll try to have him 15 to 20kg heavier before we leave, just to have that up our sleeve,” Stephens said.
“On the flight they can lose a couple of per cent of body weight, which is 10kg, no problem.”
And although the likelihood of a firm track will be in Alcopop’s favour, Stephens says he will need to adapt to racing in the reverse direction.
“A minus is that they (turn) right, not left,” he said.
“He did a fair bit of lead-up work (on that in Sydney) but then he got a virus and never got to have a crack at it.”
Alcopop will be joined in Hong Kong by Sea Siren, the John O’Shea-trained Manikato Stakes winner, who will run in the Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
French star Dunaden will be there to defend his Hong Kong Vase title despite finishing down the track in the Melbourne Cup.
Craig Williams, who rode Alcopop to his Mackinnon Stakes victory, has been booked to partner him in Hong Kong.
Stephens said he felt reasonably confident about Alcopop’s chances.
“He’s performing so well that there’s no reason not to go, and more reason to go,” he said.