Rising stayer Ethiopia will begin his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday and trainer Pat Carey is confident that the 2012 Australian Derby winner will thrive as a five-year-old.
Ethiopia was injured during the running of the 2012 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and had just one run during the autumn, finishing towards the tail of the field in the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m).
Carey told RSN that it had taken a while to get Ethiopia back to full fitness but said he was delighted with the condition of the Helenus gelding ahead of his first-up assignment this weekend.
“He has a long buildup to get him to this point and we are happy with where he is at,” Carey said.
“He got hurt in the Melbourne Cup and we decided to give him a bit more time but we didn’t want to give him the autumn off.
“We wanted to make sure that we did something with him because it is a fair while through to the spring and you don’t want to go back to zero fitness.
“There is a lot of improvement to come from the horse and I’m sure that Saturday’s race will bring him along good.
“I always thought from the time that he won the Derby that his time would be as a five-year-old.”
The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and Melbourne Cup will be the major spring assignments for Ethiopia but Carey stressed that he would head into the Makybe Diva Stakes at weight-for-age level ready to run a strong race.
“In a Group 1 race you always want them to run well,” Carey said.
“It is more than just a conditioning race that is for sure.
“We would like to see him run well but it is totally dependent on where you draw and where you are going to sit in the run as to what your chances will be in the run home.”
Ethiopia has also been included in the nominations for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and he will carry 55kg if he is entered for the race.