Australian Derby winner Ethiopia is likely to follow a weight for age path in the Spring with a start in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6 looking very remote.
Even though Ethiopia was nominated in the Melbourne Cup, trainer Pat Carey has the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27 high on the agenda.
Ethiopia is stepping out for the first time this Spring in the Group 2 $300,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday after winning the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 14 as a maiden.
Carey stated straight after winning the Derby that the he wouldn’t be chasing a Melbourne Cup start this year, but threw him in the entries at the owner’s request.
“The owner wanted him nominated for the Melbourne Cup, but that’s not to be read that we’ve changed our minds,” Carey said.
“The horse has been entered for the Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate and there are a number of other races we’re looking at that don’t require an early entry.”
Carey said that he would wait and see if the three year old form stands up in the Spring, looking at last year’s Victorian Derby winner Sangster who struggled to regain his form in the Autumn.
And Mosheen who was beaten seven lengths at her Spring debut in the Group 3 $150,000 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on last Saturday after winning three Group 1s in the Autumn.
“The formlines don’t look that strong, from either the Victoria Derby or Derby through horses like Sangster and Sabrage,” Carey said.
“But the merit of the win was very good and he ran the second-fastest Derby in recent history outside Octagonal. That has to count for something.”
Carey believes that Ethiopia is twelve months off his best and hasn’t pushed the four year old on the tracks for his return, taking him to Moonee Valley for an easy gallop during the week.
“We took him to the Valley yesterday and he had a little gallop, but we certainly haven’t screwed him down,” Carey said.
“We still think he’s a long-term prospect. He’s come up pretty nicely but we’re still expecting him to become fully mature in 12 months’ time.”
Ethiopia is down the market order for his return at Moonee Valley on Saturday at $16 while Rekindled Interest ($3.60) and Green Moon ($3.80) are fighting it out for favouritism ahead of Happy Trails at $7.50 and Linton at $8.
The Robert Hickmott trained Green Moon caught the eye with a slashing fifth at his first run since the Autumn and is on track for a good Spring.
Coming from near last on the home turn, the imported six year old went to the line strongly to finish just behind the placegetters in the Group 2 $220,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 1.