The 2013 Caulfield Cup field is packed full of talent and 2012 Australian Derby winner Ethiopiahas been a forgotten horse heading into $2.5 million Group 1 event.
Ethiopia was considered the leading Australian-bred hope in the 2012 Melbourne Cup but suffered an injury during the running of the race, finishing at the tail of the field, and has only had three race starts since returning to the races in the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m) during the 2013 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
The Helenus gelding started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a promising fifth behind Foreteller in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and had no luck when he failed to beat home a single runner in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Carey admits that Ethiopia isn’t considered one of the leading chances in the 2013 Caulfield Cup field but told Sky Racing HQ he has been happy with the five-year-olds form race and rates him a knockout chance on Saturday.
“He hasn’t had a lot of racing in the last twelve months; he hurt himself in the Cup and we elected to give him a good time to recover from that,” Carey said.
“We gave him a backend run in the Doncaster, which was on an ultra-heavy track, and he didn’t really fire but we didn’t expect him too.
“He came back and his first-up run was good and we discounted his second run because he lost his tactical speed and was down in the worst part of the ground.
“I am very happy with his past couple of items of work.
“We took him to Caulfield and galloped him on the outside of the course proper and he worked really well over a mile.”
Ethiopia has shown a great deal of versatility during his racing career and was a surprise leader in the 2012 Cox Plate (2040m); battling on bravely to finish fourth behind Ocean Park, All Too Hard and Pierro.
Carey said that the lightly-raced five-year-old has lost the tactical speed that he exhibited earlier in his career and believes that regular jockey Rhys McLeod will settle the stayer in the second half of the Caulfield Cup field.
“We have ridden him close a few times since his Derby win, particularly at weight-for-age, but back to a handicap tomorrow is new ground for him,” Carey said.
“He comes out of barrier twelve but I am confident that he will sit in the second half of the field.
“We are happy with where he sits provided he gets a nice cart off the back of a good tempo.
“It is a good jockeys race the Caulfield Cup – good jockeys work it out pretty quickly.
“It can be a bit of a push to the first corner and some get going early but good rides win Caulfield Cups.”
Ethiopia is currently rated a $41 chance in 2013 Caulfield Cup betting markets; with Hawkspur ($4.80) remaining a narrow favourite from Royal Descent ($6.50), Silent Achiever ($8) and Jet Away ($9.50).