Cox Plate hopeful Alpine Eagle faces his biggest test to date when he tackles the Group 1 $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Trainer Tony McEvoy is confident that Alpine Eagle will measure up Group 1 weight for age company this weekend and progress to be a force in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24.
“It’s going to be a big test for him,” McEvoy told The Herald Sun.
“It’s a level higher than he’s been at before. I’ve always thought he’ll get to it and I’ll know whether I’m right on Saturday, but I’m confident I will be.”
“I’ve done my talking about him. People know what I think, that he’s a Cox Plate horse. It’s now time for him to stand-up.”
“He needs to run well and, if he does, he’ll be aimed at the Cox Plate.”
If Alpine Eagle fails to live up to McEvoy’s expectation, the High Chaparral four year old will then be aimed at a staying campaign which would include the Group 1 $3m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 17.
“Otherwise I’ll take the Caulfield Cup path with him and treat him as a stayer who’ll have a lightweight in that race,” McEvoy said.
“This is it though and he’s ready to go.”\
Melbourne jockey Mark Zahra takes the ride on Alpine Eagle in the Maykbe Diva Stakes and will settle the five year old in the second half of the sixteen horse field from barrier twelve.
Alpine Eagle proved to be one of the top three year olds during the Melbourne Autumn Carnival with a win in the Group 2 $200,000 Race-Tech Australia Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield followed by a close second to the Gai Waterhouse trained Wandjna in the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 7.
McEvoy was happy with his first up run for the Spring when he stormed home to run second to Riziz in the Listed $100,000 Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville Parks three weeks ago.
The Cox Plate winning trainer was pleased with the run and is happy how he has trained on since.
“I thought the run was full of merit and he has come right on from it,” McEvoy said.
“I’m extremely pleased with him.”
Alpine Eagle has been solid in the betting for the Makybe Diva Stakes and has firmed in slightly from $7.50 to $7 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Chris Waller trained Boban heads the market order at $4.40 ahead of 2013 Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner at $6 with the favourite’s stalemate Weary listed as a $10 chance.
Makybe Diva Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.40 Boban, $6 Fawkner, $7 Alpine Eagle, $10 Weary, $11 Volkstok’N’Barrell, Hi World, Rising Romance, $12 Entirely Platinum, Happy Trails, $16 Mongolian Khan, $26 Smokin’ Joey, Awesome Rock, $31 Our Ivanhowe, Magicool, $41 Prince Of Penzance, Gust Of Wind, $101 Dandino.