Ecuador will make his long-awaited return to racing in the 2015 Royal Randwick 100 in Sydney this afternoon and trainer Gai Waterhouse expects the talented gelding to take plenty of improvement out of his first race start in over 12 months.
Ecuador stamped himself as a horse to follow during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and he went into the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick as a genuine contender and he finished a more than credible sixth.
The High Chaparral gelding improved his racing record during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, but he was sent to the spelling paddock following his fourth place finish in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22 and has not been seen at the races since.
Ecuador made his first public appearance this preparation when he finished third behind stablemate Ryker in a barrier trial at Royal Randwick on February 23 and a he produced a similar performance behind Northern Solstice at the same venue on March 16 before he beat Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Criterion and Australian Cup winner Spillway to take out a barrier trial over 1200 metres at Royal Randwick on 31.
Waterhouse believes that Ecuador faces a tough task in his first race start for over a year and she believes that the five-year-old may need one or two race starts before he is able to perform at his best.
“Ecuador is resuming and it is always hard for a horse resuming that has had quite a long let-up,” Waterhouse said.
“He has had a number of trials and he certainly looks a picture.
“Whatever Ecuador does on Saturday he will improve with a couple of races.”
Waterhouse also has Ryker in the 2015 Royal Randwick 100 field and she is hopeful that the Redoute’s Choice gelding can return to winning form after he produced credible efforts in the Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 14 and the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes ((1200m) at the same venue on March 28.
“I have a lot of time for this gelding and I have been doing things a bit differently with him to really get him to settle and concentrate on what he has to do,” Waterhouse said.
“I think that you can back him on Saturday and I am very happy with his work.”
Ecuador is currently available at $7.50 to make a winning return to racing, while Ryker is priced at $16 to record his first race win since he took out the Albury Guineas over a year ago.