Despite no clear Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival having been mapped out for 2012 Australian Derby winner Ethiopia, trainer Pat Carey has the galloper in the mix for the Melbourne Cup 2014 and will look to get him past the first ballot clause before the first Tuesday of November.
The now six-year-old son of Helenus is currently one of 147 entries Racing Victoria have for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) running at Flemington Racecourse on November 4.
Not having won a race since the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) as a three-year-old back in 2012 however, the injury-prone Ethiopia is well down the Melbourne Cup order of entry.
He sits equal 72nd on the ballot with 54.5kg and is in fact yet to pass the first ballot clause.
Because of that his price in the futures Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is unsurprisingly long, Ethiopia paying $201 to win the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Two years ago he contested the world’s richest handicap for the first time after a fourth to Kiwi superstar Ocean Park in the Cox Plate.
He pulled up lame post-Melbourne Cup however after walking in over 63 lengths behind the winner Green Moon in last place.
Last spring Ethiopia returned for a second shot at the ‘Loving Trophy’ and ran an improved seventh after being hampered near the 2000m when seven lengths away from the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente.
A third consecutive Melbourne Cup appearance may be a pipe dream then considering the injury issues Ethiopia has battled, but it’s not one Mornington-based Carey has given up on completely.
He’s taking a race-by-race approach with the galloper’s spring preparation this time in with Ethiopia last seen resuming with an eighth in the Coolgardie Cup (1760m) at Kalgoorlie on August 31 where he lumped around 61.5kg.
Carey has taken confidence the horse can improve on that however after a nice trial at Cranbourne on Monday morning.
He finished just off the winner Kindergarden Kid in the 1550m event that was run in 1:38.21, an effort Carey was pleased with.
“He satisfied me with what he has done,” Carey told Racing Victoria.
“I was very happy with the way he went through the line and stayed on well.
“The horse has only had the one run under his belt.
“He’ll need that trial to bring him on a little bit.”
Next start Carey hopes to get Ethiopia back to Melbourne for the first time since he pulled up lame again following a distant last in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) back in February.
“There is a plan to run in some races. But we just want to assess today’s trial before we run him,” Carey said on Monday.
“The horse looks great. He’s forward in the coat now. Probably the most forward he has ever been for this time of year. We are happy with him.
“He is nice and free in his action. He has had some soundness issues through his autumn preparation, where he only had two runs and we had to pull the pin on him in the autumn.
“I liked the way he looked today.”
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