After a pleasing gallop between races at Sale on Thursday leading up to their new season debut, connections of last year’s Australian Derby winner Ethiopia have named the 2013 Makybe Diva Stakes as a possible kick-off point for the now five-year-old.
Pat Carey’s Mornington based Helenus gelding hasn’t raced since their failed one run autumn campaign.
In that they resumed off a five and a half month spell to beat home just one other runner crossing 12 lengths away 17th to Sacred Falls in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in the mud at Randwick on April 20.
Their previous start before that was also a disappointing effort.
Ethiopia failed to handle their distance test in the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Flemington when dead last beaten nearly 64 lengths by the Lloyd Williams-owned winner Green Moon.
Ethiopia’s time to shine was during their opening prep as a three-year-old last autumn.
They quickly worked their way up through the grades that campaign graduating from a debut at Sale in February to winning the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick that April.
Before their Melbourne Cup loss they showed glimpses of that Derby winning form when an eye-catching fourth behind Kiwi raider Ocean Park in the $3 million Group 1 weight-for-age Cox Plate over 2040m at Moonee Valley in October.
Carey could now give Ethiopia the chance to shine at elite level again this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival naming the newly upgraded $350,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 7 as a possible first-up assignment for them.
“I’m very happy with where he’s at, he’s got a very good base of fitness underneath him,” Carey told TVN after their gallop on Thursday with stable mate Sailsbury.
Ethiopia has been spelling in WA at owner Trevor Delroy’s property enjoying a variety of work to get them back to race fitness including beach gallops and sandhills.
“He’s come back nicely and I’m pretty happy with what he did today,” Carey said.
They’ve also been nominated for all the majors this spring with their form to determine where they go, including entries for the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19 and this year’s Cox Plate the following Saturday.
In the current Caulfield Cup futures odds Ethiopia is rated a $26 chance, while in early Cox Plate betting they’re at a longer $41 with Carey confirming their focus was the Caulfield Cup.
“I think he’d be well weighted, (around) 54 kilos (in the Caulfield Cup),” Carey said.
“He’d get a fast-run mile-and-a-half in front of him and that would probably suit him.”
Carey admitted however that they still were entertaining dreams of a 2013 Melbourne Cup bid not deterred by last year’s disaster.
“The ambition has always been to get him out to two miles (in the Melbourne Cup),” he said.
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