Trainer Jake Stephens says Alcopop is “better than ever” as he attempts to go one better than in last year’s Group One Caulfield Stakes.
The seven-year-old has thrilled Stephens with his form this campaign and he believes that Saturday’s 2000-metre weight-for-age event will peak him for either the Caulfield Cup or the Cox Plate.
“It is all systems go at the moment,” Stephens told Radio Sport National.
“He’s fitter and harder and is probably the best he’s ever looked.”
Alcopop loves the spring and has had a particular liking for Caulfield Guineas day the last two years.
He won the 2009 Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) from subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Shocking and last year finished a gallant second to dual Cox Plate winner So You Think in the Caulfield Stakes.
His task has been made easier on Saturday by the shock scratching of last year’s third placegetter Whobegotyou on Thursday.
Trainer Mark Kavanagh advised Racing Victoria stewards the 2008 Caulfield Guineas and 2009 Caulfield Stakes winner had jarred up in his joints.
As a result the six-year-old, who was third in last year’s Cox Plate, will not take his place in the $3 million event at Moonee Valley on October 22.
Alcopop is in better form than a year ago having already won the Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) second-up in Adelaide and last start charging home late to finish second to Rekindled Interest in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
Stephens has given Alcopop a month between runs which is his biggest fear on Saturday.
“It is a bit longer than usual so he’s probably not going to be 100 per cent but obviously what comes after this is the main goal,” Stephens said.
He said Alcopop didn’t have be right on his game for Saturday but had to perform well, especially if the Cox Plate was to remain an option.
“I think he’s in with a chance on Saturday and then we will play it by ear and see how he pulls up and recovers before deciding between the Caulfield Cup next week and the Cox Plate the week after,” Stephens said.
Stephens said it was unclear how well Alcopop backed up in last year’s Caulfield Cup when he was beaten 11 lengths and finished 11th to Descarado.
“It is hard to gauge as it was a heavy track and he drew the outside,” Stephens said.
Alcopop usually settles in the back two or three in his races but Stephens expects jockey Dom Tourneur will make use of barrier three and have the gelding rolling at least midfield, if not closer.
Underwood Stakes form has been the best recent guide to the Caulfield Stakes and notably the winner Lion Tamer, fifth-placed Playing God – who last start was third in the Turnbull Stakes – and ninth-placed Lights Of Heaven come through the Underwood.
They will be looking to follow the last three Caulfield Stakes winners Douro Valley (eighth in the Underwood), Whobegotyou (second) and So You Think (first).
Lion Tamer is $2 favourite to become the 15th horse to land the Underwood-Caulfield Stakes double ahead of At First Sight at $5, Sincero at $6, Alcopop at $6.50, Lights Of Heaven at $9 with Playing God and Hong Kong galloper Mighty High next best at $10.