Even though promising stayer Ecuador is lining up in restricted class at Rosehill tomorrow trainer Gai Waterhouse and jockey Tommy Berry believe the four year old is a genuine Group 1 contender.
If Ecuador happened to win the 1900m Benchmark 80 Handicap tomorrow with 60kg, he would still need a lot of luck to force his way into the Group 1 $400,000 McGrath Estate Agents The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick next week.
But even if he doesn’t get his chance to race in Group 1 company soon, Berry still rates him on par with last year’s Metropolitan winner Glencadam Gold.
“He’s a lovely horse, he’s a Metrop horse I believe so he would want to be carrying the weight to win,” Berry told the Sportsman.
“Obviously Glencadam Gold contested a couple of harder races going into it, like the Newcastle Cup, but this bloke feels just as good.”
“He’s a typical Gai Waterhouse stayer, he never gives up and I will be interested to see how far he can go.”
Ecuador has won at his last two start leading all of the way and jumped up from a midweek Canterbury win to score a three lengths victory in a Benchmark 75 Handicap at Rosehill over 1800m two weeks ago.
“He hasn’t gone backwards that’s for sure,” Berry said.
“He has a perfect barrier and he should get a nice run in the race.”
The High Chaparral four year old has been marked a $1.40 favourite and should have no trouble leading this field from barrier two and looks set to repeat his win a fortnight ago.
While Ecuador is well down the order of entry for the Metropolitan at number seventy-three, he is well up in the market order and is on the fourth line of betting at $8 behind the Chris Waller trained Moriarty at $4.60, Prince Cheri at $5 and Glencadam Gold at $7.
Waterhouse was very upbeat after Ecuador’s latest win at Rosehill and hasn’t ruled out trying to qualify him for the Group 1 $2.65m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 19.
“He could be a Caulfield Cup horse, he’s still in the Cox Plate,” Waterhouse said.
“I’ve got to work out how to qualify him for these big races but it’s a pleasant problem to have.”