Tony McEvoy’s consistent Group 1 runner-up Alpine Eagle will kick off his latest campaign at home in South Australia on Saturday running in Morphettville’s Penny Edition Stakes 2015.
The four-year-old High Chaparral stallion has won four of his six starts to date and is yet to finish out of the money also boasting a second and third in his other two career runs.
He won three on the trot during his summer – autumn campaign including the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield in late February before stepping up to elite level company last time out.
McEvoy ran him in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) over the Flemington mile on March 7 and Alpine Eagle more than held his own when finishing only a neck away second to the Gai Waterhouse-trained Wandjina.
Sent for a spell after that he trialled at Morphettville on August 7 over 1000m on a Heavy (8) track and was a distant second to Éclair Choice with his Autumn Classic winning jockey Damien Oliver in the saddle.
Alpine Eagle is now set to resume racing in the weight-for-age $100,000 Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) this weekend, with Matthew Neilson aboard, where he’ll look to build on a top first-up record of two wins and a third place finish from three previous returning runs to date.
His other first-up options was the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield last Saturday, won by late swooper Mourinho over The Cleaner, but McEvoy is happy he saved his horse for the easier assignment this weekend.
“The Lawrence was going to be the race but he just pulled up a little bit fat after his trial,” McEvoy told AAP this week.
“I wasn’t quite happy with his fitness so that’s why I’ve elected to give him a little bit more work and head towards the Penny Edition.
“I’m been very pleased with him so I’m looking forward to it. I’m hopeful that he can take the step up.”
Melbourne is again on the agenda for the consistent improver who is nominated for both the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17 and the weight-for-age $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley the following Saturday.
Futures Caulfield Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Alpine Eagle listed as a $21 hope in markets led by Fame Game and Mongolian Khan.
For the Cox Plate on October 24 he pays a shorter $17 with Arod and Contributer the $10 co-favourites, McEvoy naming it over the Caulfield Cup as the preferred option.
“If I think he’s struggling at the weight-for-age he can switch to the handicaps and go to the Caulfield Cup,” he said.
Other notable Penny Edition Stakes nominations for this Saturday in Adelaide meanwhile include veteran seven-year-old Riziz, 2014 Group 1 Champagne Stakes winner Go Indy Go and last start Spring Stakes champ Red Eclipse.
Leading into the possible Melbourne majors in October, McEvoy plans to run Alpine Eagle in Group 1 company at Flemington Racecourse on September 12 in the $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
“He’s on everyone’s lips, so I’m just hoping that he can come back and confirm all that,” McEvoy said.
“They’ve got to take a big step going from their protected three-year-old days to the open grade. So let’s hope he’s good enough to do it.”
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