THE most deserving generally do not get a look in on Victoria Derby day, the most unforgiving of all on the racing calendar, but that all changed on Saturday when the spring’s luckless runner Alcopop snared his first group 1 win after charging home in the $1 million Mackinnon Stakes.
Runner-up at the elite level in his past two starts in the Caulfield Stakes and Caulfield Cup, Alcopop notched a first group 1 win for his trainer, Jake Stephens, and put an end to the spring carnival curse that has plagued the horse for the past two seasons.
To assist in his quest for that group 1 win for himself and his brave horse, Stephens made the tough decision to dump regular rider Dom Tourneur and replace him with one of the world’s great big-race riders in Craig Williams. The move paid off.
”What a great ride from Craig,” Stephens said moments after the race. ”When they were coming to the turn and Ocean Park was getting out to the middle of the track, I was saying, ‘Stay on the rails’ and that’s what he did, and he was able to chase down the leader.
”I told Craig before the race that he’s freshened well and had done really well during the week and to go out and just do it.”
Williams pursued inside runs on the horse while Ocean Park went to the middle of the track.
Alcopop lifted over the final 100 metres to run down Glass Harmonium. On the line, Alcopop ($6) had a neck margin over the brave Glass Harmonium with a long neck to Ocean Park, the Cox Plate winner and the Mackinnon’s $1.70 favourite.
Alcopop was the early favourite for the Melbourne Cup two years ago but his campaign finished three days before the Cup after he performed poorly in the Lexus and was spelled. The next 12 months were ruined by knee and leg injuries. Stephens rejuvenated the eight-year-old for a spring campaign and the horse has not let him down.
Stephens is already considering his 2013 options for the veteran. ”We might give him the autumn off again and give him a nice, long build-up to [the spring] next year,” he said.
Rarely does a losing trainer smile as broadly as did Leon Corstens after the Mackinnon. His four-year-old Zabeelionaire beat only three runners home but the manner in which he found the line pleased his trainer.
”Craig [Newitt] hopped off and said that the last 50 to 100 metres was his best, and that’s what you want to see with an eye to Tuesday,” Corstens said. ”He was caught flat-footed when they sprinted – he lacks that killer sprint to win races – and he ground home gradually.
”I’ve always been a bit fearful it might be 12 months too early for him but on that run and with just 52 kilograms in the Cup – a weight he’ll never see again – we’re happy to go to Tuesday knowing he’s had a great prep.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.