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Pat Carey’s former Australian Derby winner Ethiopia will look to break a two year drought this coming Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival where they’ll target the 2014 Australian Cup in March.
The Mornington-based Carey has named the $1 million Group 1 Darley Australian Cup (2000m) on March 8 as a major autumn aim for his rising six-year-old Helenus gelding despite their disappointing elite level form over the past few seasons.
A gun youngster who ran top three in their opening three starts back in the autumn of 2012, Ethiopia sealed their title as an up-and-coming stayer to watch with a win in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) during their three-year-old season.
They didn’t reach quite the same heights that spring but did enjoy a Cox Plate fourth behind Ocean Park before their big failure in that year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Failing to handle the class of stayers or the two miles in the famous Flemington feature Ethiopia broke down and was lame post-Melbourne Cup having walked home 64 lengths away from the winner Green Moon.
They were spelled for five and a half months to recover and did nothing in their highly anticipated return when second last to Sacred Falls in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in the mud last April.
Another lengthy break followed before they returned for their most recent campaign during the spring.
Things were more miss than hit however with six unplaced runs, the only notable effort being a fourth to Ruscello in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
They were tested in the Melbourne Cup again and finished inside the top 10 when seventh this time behind Fiorente in a gun effort.
Their last start was another shocker however when they returned on New Year’s Day at Flemington to carrying 59kg to a 10th beating just one rival in the Flamberge-won Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m).
Carey though wasn’t expecting much more over the unsuitable sprint distance and is tipping them to improve as they’re stepped up over their next few runs heading towards the Australian Cup.
One of those summer runs could be in the $350,000 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) on February 12 with Carey wanting to keep them racing right through the summer.
“We’d like to think he’d go to the Australian Cup he may run in the Mornington Cup and then hopefully on to Sydney,” Carey told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“He missed last autumn after going pretty well through the (2012) spring and he took a little while to find his form this spring but his last two runs were excellent.
“His run in the Melbourne Cup was outstanding after suffering interference and covering ground from the 1400.”
It is shaping up as a top edition of the Australian Cup this autumn too with other notable hopes including Irish St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs, WA Guineas – Kingston Town Classic – CB Cox Stakes triple winner Ihtsahymn and the reigning Melbourne Cup champ Fiorente.
If Ethiopia does continue onto the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival Carey said they would likely target the $2.25 million Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens, a race the horseman won in 2011 with the ill-fated Cedarberg.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au over the season for all the latest on the autumn classics including nominations and both pre and post field betting markets.
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