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In the midst of the hype about interntional imports and raiders in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, there are two horses that share something special in common.
Ethiopia and Niwot are the only horses in the field that are both Australian bred and trained.
Others such as Lights Of Heaven and Maluckyday are considered as Australian as vegemite as they have race their entire careers here but even that pair were bred across the ditch in New Zealand.
With the race dominated by internationals in recent years, the pair give the most patriotic of punters plenty to cheer for.
He may be named after an African country but Ethiopa is considered on the most exciting Australian-bred stayers to arise in recent times.
The four-year-old burst on to the scene in April when producing a last-to-first display to win the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) and won plenty of admirers for his tough effort to run fourth in the Cox Plate.
Many have questioned the lightly-raced gelding’s race experience heading into the nation’s biggest race but trainer Pat Carey remains unfazed.
“You must remember that this horse went into the AJC Derby at his fourth start,” Carey said.
“We are well aware of what his staying capacity is, we chose to go to the Cox Plate knowing we were going to go to the Melbourne Cup if we thought he was in a good position.”
Niwot is at the other end of the scale to his young rival, an eight-year-old who will be having his 33rd start on Tuesday.
The veteran from the team Hawkes stable earned his first start in Australia’s biggest race last year where he was the first local home in eighth position.
His lead-up form has been less than desirable but he is a stayer with ability which was obvious in April when he won the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
Wayne Hawkes is thrilled to have the gelding fit heading into his second cup and is hoping he and fellow Hawkes contender can serve it up to their overseas rivals.
“There’s not many of us locals yet but we’ll be happy to send the Europeans back if we’re good enough,” Hawkes said.
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