Ethiopia could have the chance to record his first win in almost two years after being included in the 2014 Mornington Cup Prelude nominations.
Ethiopia broke his maiden with a win in the 2012 Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), but has been unable to record another race victory in eleven subsequent starts.
The Helenus gelding performed well at Group 1 level during the 2012 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, finishing fourth in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), and failed to fire at the start of his spring campaign last year before finishing an impressive seventh in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Ethiopia returned to the races in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day, beating home just a single runner, and according to trainer Pat Carey could contest the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) on February 12, the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) on March 1 and the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5.
Pat Carey could have two runners in the Mornington Cup Prelude field; with the veteran trainer also including Durnford in the nominations for the Listed event.
Durnford has found his best form at the end of what has been a lengthy campaign and finished an unlucky second in the Listed Lord Stakes (1600m) at Mornington on December 29 before a fifth place finish in the Craftsman Handicap (1720m) at Flemington on January 18.
Another horse looking to end a lengthy losing streak is imported gelding Prairie Star, who has not recorded a race win since he took out the Group 2 Prix Hocquart (2200m) at Longchamp in France in May of 2011.
Prairie Star made his Australian racing debut during the 2012 Spring Racing Carnival, finishing fourth in both the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) and the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), but missed the majority of the 2013 Melbourne Festival Of Racing as well as the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival due to injury.
The son of Peintre Celebre was gelded before making his return to racing with a ninth place finish in the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on January 11 and should be suited by the step-up to 1400 metres.
Prairie Star is joined in the Mornington Cup Prelude nominations by fellow imported stayer He’s Your Man, who has performed well in two race starts since joining the stable of Chris Waller.
The Cape Cross entire made his Australian racing debut with a second place finish behind Anlon in the George Watson Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day and was beaten as favourite in the Craftsman Handicap (1720m) at the same venue on January 18.
Other interesting horses included in the Mornington Cup Prelude nominations are: Perth-based God Has Spoken, Gai Waterhouse-trained Laidback Larry, imported galloper Motivado and Darley gelding Sindarin.
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2014 Mornington Cup Prelude Nominations
|1||AVERAU||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||68|
|2||BOMBALATOMBA (NZ)||Chris Hyland||75|
|4||DAYITA||Peter G Moody||93|
|5||DOMINI SERVATUS||Gary Mallinson||58|
|7||EPINGLE (NZ)||Michael Kent||94|
|9||EXTRA ZERO||David Hayes||90|
|10||GOD HAS SPOKEN||Neville Parnham||98|
|11||GREAT LANE||Bill & Symon Wilde||78|
|12||HE’S YOUR MAN (FR)||Chris Waller||91|
|13||LAIDBACK LARRY (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||85|
|14||MAULES CREEK||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||84|
|15||MOTIVADO (GB)||David Hayes||93|
|16||OREGON SPIRIT||Peter G Moody||94|
|17||PRAIRIE STAR (FR)||Danny O’Brien||102|
|18||PRINCE OF PENZANCE (NZ)||Darren Weir||81|
|19||RECKLESS ASSASSIN||John Sadler||73|
|20||SHENZHOU STEEDS (NZ)||Michael Moroney||91|
|22||SURPASS (NZ)||Michael Moroney||87|