Tony McEvoy is making the big call early and has named the Cox Plate and 2015 Caulfield Cup as potential spring targets for his nicely-bred colt Alpine Eagle.
The rising four-year-old son of High Chaparral is yet to finish out of the money winning four of his six starts and placing second and third in the other two since his Gawler debut in May last year.
Based in Adelaide, Alpine Eagle has also raced competitively in Melbourne most notably winning the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield in late February narrowly defeating Minnesinger in the feature after coming good off a tricky run round the bend to storm home over the final 100m.
After that he was tested in elite level company at Flemington and was far from disgraced when crossing a neck away second behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained winner Wandjina in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) back over a mile on March 7.
Alpine Eagle hasn’t raced since that Victorian Group 1 but is back in work with easy canters as he gears up for a new season return with some massive targets on the agenda.
McEvoy is hoping the promising youngster comes back as good as he left off and develops into a genuine hope for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley and or the iconic $3.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) this October.
While a lot of water has to flow under the bridge between now and those upcoming Spring Group 1s, McEvoy told Racenet he is more than happy where Alpine Eagle is currently at and is hopeful of the horse’s prospects.
“He’s had six weeks in the paddock and would have only got three weeks had I pressed on,” he said.
“The horse has had a chance to develop further and grow so I’m happy with the decision (to spell him instead of pressing on further into the autumn).
“He’s put 45kg on and done very well.”
McEvoy said a decision on exactly which Group 1 path the galloper would travel would be determined based on his early form once he returns to racing.
“I just want to see how he comes back and how sharp he is this time and then make some decisions but his goals will be the Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup, one of the two,” he said.
“Probably the Cox Plate but how we get there, I’ll determine that when I see how much he’s improved.
“The form around him has stood up so it’s very exciting.”
That form McEvoy speaks of saw the Australian Guineas winner Wandjina continue on to open-age company and cross a neck away second behind the now retired Dissident in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 18.
Waterhouse’s Snitzel colt is now one of four Australian-trained gallopers who are Royal Ascot bound in Britain next month.
Futures Melbourne Group 1 race markets are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au including those for the 2015 Cox Plate with the Godolphin-owned Contriubter ($8) and David Hayes & Tom Dabernig’s internationally placed Criterion ($9) leading the betting.
Alpine Eagle meanwhile pays $17 to win the Cox Plate and is listed at the same price in the all-in Caulfield Cup odds led by the John O’Shea-trained The BMW winner Hartnell ($11) who was last seen running fourth to Grand Marshall in the Sydney Cup.
To check out the full Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup betting markets getting behind your early picks at their juicy pre-nomination prices head over to Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $500 bonus welcome bet offer this season!