Alcopop, from Victor Harbour in South Australia, is set to become the Aussie battler, not only against the overseas invaders but also Melbourne Cup giants Bart Cummings, Lloyd Williams and Lee Freedman. Broken in rounding up cattle and used as a polo pony, Alcopop, named in frustration after about 16 earlier submissions were knocked back, the gelding produced dazzling figures to take the Herbert Power Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday. “The last Melbourne Cup winner to come out of the Herbert Power was Rogan Josh, rating 113, but Alcopop produced 115,” reported Gary Crispe, who does the highly regarded Timeform ratings in Australia. His finishing sectionals were brilliant at the end of the 2400 metres, indicating a dash of freak. Breeder, part-owner and trainer Jake Stephens said the five-year-old might not run before the Big One and pointed out he had left improvement in Alcopop. “He has an astronomical power-to-weight ratio and while he is not a heavy horse, he puts in 110 per cent,” Stephens said. While millions are spent trying to find a Melbourne Cup winner, Alcopop is out of Iota Of Luck, a no-account mare, but has a Cup link being by Jeune. Alcopop also won at Morphettville on Melbourne Cup day last year. No doubt big-timers will be trying to jock the Mauritius-born Dom Tourneur off Alcopop. Stephens, though, is adamant Tourneur will retain the ride although the hoop has had more experience at outposts such as Marble Bar and Gascoyne Junction than Flemington. HAPPY VALLEY Perhaps they raced on vastly different tracks but Alcopop in the Herbert Power on good to firm ground was equally as impressive as Speed Gifted’s overwhelming Metropolitan effort in the Randwick slop the previous Saturday. Alcopop had won the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley but Valley form is treated with caution. Still, Avenue’s blitz at Caulfield on Saturday confirmed credentials established previously at the Valley. Incidentally, Lee Freedman, trainer of Speed Gifted, mentioned at Caulfield that his advice from Britain regarding Speed Gifted was that he didn’t handle the wet. PAYNE GAIN The Michelle Payne touch was justifiably acclaimed for her effort on Allez Wonder in the Toorak at Caulfield on Saturday. While hard-luck stories abounded and a bunched finish made the form suspect, that special gene that makes the Payne family fine horse-people and honed to perfection by their youngest came to the fore. And on Saturday at Rosehill another example of it came to light. God’s Hand, which attacks the winning post like an acrophobic approaches the Gap, was given every chance by Brenton Avdulla but wouldn’t hit the line. The last time God’s Hand scored, his first success for more than a year, was under Michelle Payne in February after which four others have attempted to get the same result without any joy. PROTEST WORRY Victoria has gone soft on the new whip rules but the possibility a protest by rival connections can be upheld is very much alive. Following the edict by Russell Lewis, chairman of the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, that penalties concerning the whip debacle were “manifestly excessive”, the chief steward down south, Terry Bailey, said the national guidelines would be hard to enforce. Little action was seen on the whip front at Caulfield on Saturday but Ray Murrihy, the Racing NSW chief stipe, continued his vigilance at Rosehill. Murrihy doesn’t like the protest rule but is bound to enforce it. But he’s aghast at the Victorian soft-penalty policy, pointing out on the ABC’s News Radio Weekend Half-Time at the Races yesterday, that the only reason the win-at-all-costs attitude has been tempered in the Golden Slipper is because of harsh fines and penalties. HORSE TO FOLLOW Apache Cat showed that the horsepower of his prime hasn’t diminished when runner-up to the record-breaking Lucky Secret in the Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. Obviously the 1000 metres was too short but looking at him before the race, Apache Cat still had scope for improvement. DISAPPOINTING The highly rated Trusting , lacking anything like his normal finish, failed in Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas. Perhaps he was lame after cooling down but jockey Craig Williams reckoned he couldn’t feel anything amiss when he pulled up after the race. WINNERS & LOSERS ‘I was getting very much to the point that I was going to end up in a hole.’Jockey Dom Tourneur, rider of Alcopop, which triumphed in the Herbert Power at Caulfield on Saturday, recalling when his life ran off the rails.