Mark Zahra is pinning his hopes on the raw talent of Alpine Eagle against some proven weight-for-age stars in the Makybe Diva Stakes as the jockey looks to make an early spring impact at Flemington.
Zahra has secured a good book of rides in the seven stakes races on Saturday’s nine-race card, with Alpine Eagle considered among the main chances in the Group One Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
His rides also include Black Vanquish, Madam Gangster and Under The Louvre in Group Two races.
Zahra has been aboard Alpine Eagle in trackwork since picking up the ride on the four-year-old for Saturday’s race and can’t fault him.
Alpine Eagle is on the third line of betting behind multiple Group One weight-for-age winners Boban and Fawkner.
Zahra is looking forward to finding out what Alpine Eagle can produce on Saturday.
He thinks if Alpine Eagle can flow into the race and build through his gears like he did when Douglas Whyte rode the horse to a close second in the Australian Guineas, he will be the horse finishing strongest.
“He’s very exciting and still looks like he’s got a bit to learn, but he’s got a great amount of raw talent and I like the way he’s drawn out a bit (barrier 12),” Zahra said.
“He seems to need a bit of room to wind up in his races.
“He looks the best up-and-comer, but in these Group Ones he needs to do everything right to win as well.”
Zahra will be trying to land his first Group One success since his 2011 Emirates Stakes win on Albert The Fat.
A careless riding suspension to Patrick Moloney paved the way for Zahra to pick up the ride first-up on the promising Black Vanquish for the Danehill Stakes.