Bott Hopes Placement Has Alcohol Free Set To Be Queen At Oz Debut

By Ray Hickson

It’s hard to not have some expectation hanging over a horse with the price tag that star UK mare Alcohol Free has attached to her but what new co-trainer Adrian Bott can say is she’s had a solid build up to her Australian debut at Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer Adrian Bott. (Pic: Bradley Photos).

Yulong paid 5.4 million Guineas (about $10.6 million AUS) for the four-time British Group 1 winner at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale and she landed in Sydney with the European visitors in late February to be trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

She comes with a lofty reputation. UK trainer William Haggas said during the week if Alcohol Free brings her best form to Randwick the Group 1 $1m Sydney Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) would be a no contest.

Bott is a little more guarded saying what she did in the UK was outstanding, with her last two runs a win in the Group 1 July Cup and a third to superstar Baaeed at Group 1 over a mile, and she now has to do it here.

“It’d be hard to bring that form first-up here in Australia, what we’ve seen from her at her best in the peak of her career,’’ Bott said.

“There’s no doubt she can be very well placed and be very effective in our top Group races, particularly after she’s had a bit of time to settle in and to adjust.

“The next 12 months could be very exciting with her.

“It’d be unfair on her to be expecting her to produce a career best first-up in Australia but in saying that she’s well placed on what she’s done to date.

“Our job is having her in the right races and having her fit at this point.”

The five-year-old was trained by Andrew Balding in the UK and won a Group 1 race in each season for him, including the Coronation Stakes (1604m) at Royal Ascot in 2021 (on heavy ground) and beat older horses in the Sussex Stakes (1609m) at Goodwood just over a month later.

Bott said Alcohol Free lost a few kilograms on the trip from overseas but didn’t take too long to put it back on and appears to have settled in well to Tulloch Lodge.

“I don’t have anything to go off in terms of getting a line on how she’s worked in other areas of her career,’’ he said.

“We’re still learning in that regard but she seems well in herself, seems happy, and fit going to the races.

“We’re banking on the fact she’s got the right form going to the race, she’s well placed and is forward enough for the run.”

It was noticeable that Alcohol Free, $3.50 with TAB on Thursday, was given a stirring 1200m trial in her only public appearance at Randwick on March 21 and Bott said that was by design.

“We wanted to make the most of that trial,’’ he said.

“It’s been a while since she’s been to the races so she needed something to stimulate her and help bring her along.”

Promising two-year-old Autumn Ballet has trained on well from her impressive debut win in the Group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) last month.

Bott said the filly appears as though she’ll handle softer conditions in the Group 2 $1m Tresemme Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) on Saturday based on what she dealt with in Canberra.

“I think it was soft enough conditions on the day at Canberra and she looked effective through it,’’ he said.

“She’s got a lot of upside, we’ve tried to keep her up to the mark in between. She’ll head out after this and focus on the three-year-old season but it is a nice target for her.”

Adrian Bott on the stable’s Sydney Cup runners:

Knights Order: “He’s been building nicely towards this race, he’s followed a similar preparation and hopefully he’s ready to peak on Saturday. He’s proven at two miles and in the track conditions, he’s got to carry a bit more weight this time around but he’s got to be in the mix.”

Sir Lucan: “I thought he had genuine excuses on the day as to why he didn’t run up to expectations (in the Tancred) but back to handicap conditions will suit him. He should be effective over the two miles, the track conditions will be the unknown for him but outside that he seems well in himself and he’s come through that last run in great shape.”