The South Australian Derby in May is the favoured option for ultra-impressive Autumn Classic 2015 winner Alpine Eagle who could still show up at Flemington in the Australian Guineas next week according to his trainer Tony McEvoy.
All the money was on the improving High Chaparral colt Alpine Eagle in the $200,000 Group 2 Race-Tech Australia Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m) on Blue Diamond Stakes Day this afternoon, the up-and-comer having won three of his previous four starts.
Still a very green horse who is learning more each run, the well-backed favourite saw his first black type field today and looked in real trouble with 600m to go in the run after getting caught worse than midfield travelling eighth.
On the turn for home Alpine Eagle was still five lengths off them and looked out of it.
All eyes were up front on the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Firehouse Rock, who looked the winner having led into the straight after running down early pacemaker Zahspeed to get to the top after the best run of the race, putting a nice gap on his rivals.
But with 200m to go a fast-finishing Alpine Eagle ($1.95) absolutely soared to the line picking up the horse that had left him at the top of the straight, the in-form Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Lonhro colt Minnesinger ($12).
While Minnesinger, a winner of his last two starts, got a lovely run into the race once they were going for the line, Alpine Eagle got left behind.
He and jockey Damien Oliver then did an enormous job to battle on and dive on the line to defeat Minnesinger by a nose in the win of the day with Firehouse Rock ($13) holding for third after just getting nabbed late.
“He took a bit of riding,” Oliver said after the win.
“He’s still pretty raw but he’s got unlimited potential.
“He had to come around a couple of tiring horses on the turn and we lost a bit of ground.
“He did good to pick up the one who shot away (Minnesinger).
“He hasn’t had many starts. He’s still learning and he can only get better.”
McEvoy is now leaning towards giving the Autumn Classic winner a freshen-up back home in Adelaide before coming back to target the $500,000 Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on May 9.
“He really excited me,” McEvoy said.
“He looked in a lot of trouble wobbling around…he is still coming…to be able to pick it up and win was incredible.”
There is a chance however that the Autumn Classic quinella could both return next Saturday to run in Flemington’s $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) with both Minnesinger and Alpine Eagle still in the entries.
“He is still in the Guineas next week so I’ll let the dust settle,” McEvoy said.
“He’ll probably go home and have a freshen-up and go towards the South Australian Derby.
“That’s favoured at the moment, but if the horse bounces out of this, then he’s still in it next Saturday.
“I’m not gonna rush him….still a work in progress.”
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2015 Autumn Classic Results & Finishing Order
Caulfield Race 4 – 28/02/2015
|1||5||ALPINE EAGLE||Tony McEvoy||Damien Oliver||–||6||57kg||$1.90F|
|2||10||MINNESINGER||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Dwayne Dunn||0.1L||3||57kg||$11|
|3||3||FIREHOUSE ROCK||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Nicholas Hall||0.85L||11||57kg||$10|
|4||2||MAGICOOL||Mark Kavanagh||Mark Zahra||3.85L||13||57kg||$16|
|5||1||MOONOVERMANHATTAN||Mick Price||Brad Rawiller||4.25L||9||57kg||$7.50|
|6||11||LUCKY PADDY||Mark Riley||Damian Lane||5.25L||4||57kg||$21|
|7||7||SAN PADRE||Michael Kent||Vlad Duric||5.75L||5||57kg||$51|
|8||8||CHILL PARTY||Tom Hughes||Steven Arnold||5.85L||8||57kg||$101|
|9||13||BETSY||Peter G Moody||Craig Williams||6.05L||2||55kg||$15|
|10||4||HONG KONG CAPTAIN||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||6.8L||10||57kg||$9|
|11||6||NORMAN RULES||Colin & Cindy Alderson||Chris Parnham (a)||9.05L||12||57kg||$41|
|12||12||PEPPERJACK||Wez Hunter||Jamie Mott||13.05L||1||57kg||$71|
|13||9||ZAHSPEED||Danny O’Brien||Chad Schofield||16.05L||7||57kg||$21|