Tony McEvoy is not one known for outlandish statements, so when he says Alpine Eagle could potentially be the best horse he’s trained - you need to pay attention, reports

When it comes to thoroughbred racing, few rival McEvoy for experience - having spent more than three decades working at Lindsay Park before stepping out on his own five years ago.

When asked if Alpine Eagle is the best he’s had in those five years - the answer was ‘absolutely’.

But taking it to the next level, McEvoy says he measures up against any that have come through Lindsay Park in his time - including the likes of dual Cox Plate winner Fields Of Omagh.

“He’s still got to get to the ultimate level, but potentially,” McEvoy said.

“Having had a lot of experience through the years with Lindsay Park (and) seeing a lot of high quality horses coming through, in my opinion he holds his own with any of those horses.

“He continues to tell me he is the horse.”

Alpine Eagle is yet to miss a place in his seven starts - highlighted by a stunning win in the Group 2 Autumn Classic and a narrow second to Wandjina in the Group 1 Australian Guineas.

He’s taking on legitimate weight-for-age stars for the first time in Saturday’s Makybe Diva Stakesbut McEvoy thinks he belongs in this grade.

“He’s a high-class horse but we’re at a different level now for sure for him - it’s a very deep race,” he said.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for almost all the field, but I think he deserves his place in the race.

“He probably should be unbeaten in his career - it’s a big step for him but one I think he’s ready to take.”

WATCH: Hear from McEvoy ahead of the Makybe Diva Stakes




The expectations are high for Flemington but McEvoy says he’ll keep improving as he heads towards the Cox Plate.

“We’ve never got him to his distance yet,” he said.

“When he gets to 2000m you’ll see what he’s all about. I can’t wait for that day.”

Leading jockey Damien Oliver was originally booked for the ride, but reneged to partner Fawkner, meaning Mark Zahra picks up the plum mount.

“I’m very disappointed about that,” McEvoy said.

“Damien was the rider that we chose ... and he came and rode him in Adelaide in the trials and everything was looking forward but he elected to ride Fawkner so we were very disappointed in that.

“But Mark Zahra is a high-class rider, he’s got very good hands and I think he’ll suit the horse.

“He’s ridden him on three occasions here at Flemington and they’ve been a good partnership and I’m sure he’ll ride him very well.”

Alpine Eagle is an $7.50 third favourite for the Makybe Diva Stakes - one of only three runners in single-figure odds along with last-start Memsie Stakes winner Boban ($4.80) and Fawkner ($5.50).

McEvoy trained three Group 1 winners when he was in charge of Lindsay Park, but is still dreaming about capturing the first major in his own right.

“It would mean everything (to win), it would tick another box in my new business,” he said.

“I started with two horses in my stable five years ago, so it’s been very hard to find these horses to run at the elite level - but we’ve got one and I’m very excited to have him there.”