Trainer Tony McEvoy is looking at throwing his smart colt Alpine Eagle in the deep end right from the start of his Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign with the 2015 Memsie Stakes first-up one of the options for the young Cox Plate hope.
A rising four-year-old son of High Chaparral, the Wolf Blass-owned Alpine Eagle was last seen backing up from three straight wins including the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield in February to run second behind Wandjina in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 3.
Spelled after the solid Group 1 effort the colt has come back bigger and better and will kick off in August.
McEvoy is looking at either the $200,000 Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on August 14 or the season’s opening elite level, the $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes at the same track and distance but in tougher company a fortnight later for Alpine Eagle’s resuming run.
Letting the progress of the horse guide his campaign, McEvoy is hoping the up-and-comer will develop into a genuine hope for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on 24 with all the early signs positive.
“I haven’t put any pressure on the horse yet but he’s had one conditioning gallop so far and he just towed the jockey up the hill like a horse with class should,” McEvoy told Racing Victoria this week.
“He put on 45kg during his spell and he’s put on another 11kg during his training which gives me real confidence that the horse has come back even better.
“That really gives me a lot of confidence the horse has come back better.
“He’s always had a tremendous frame but didn’t have a lot of flesh on the frame.
“He’s really thickened up, but there’s more to come and he’ll handle a really strong campaign this spring.
“A gut feel, but the Cox Plate is a race I’d like to get him to.”
Futures Cox Plate odds are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au with Hong Kong’s Able Friend ($7) the early favourite.
Alpine Eagle meanwhile is also in the top part of the all-in Cox Plate betting markets at a current quote of $15 to become the fifth four-year-old in the past six years to win Australasia’s weight-for-age classic, the last being the then internationally-trained raider Adelaide last season.
McEvoy, who has stables in both Melbourne and Adelaide the latter at Angaston where Alpine Eagle is based, has saddled up four Cox Plate starters over the years for one second place finish and a win with Fields Of Omagh back in 2003.
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