Mornington trainer Pat Carey is not worried that his Melbourne Cup hope Ethiopia is going into Australia’s greatest race at Flemington tomorrow the least experienced of any runner in the field.
Ethipoia will only be having his eighth race start when lines up in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) compared to race favourites Americain who has had thirty-three starts and Dunaden with thirty-four runs to date.
“You must remember that this horse went into the AJC Derby at his fourth start,” Carey said.
“We are well aware of what his staying capacity is, we chose to go to the Cox Plate knowing we were going to go to the Melbourne Cup if we thought he was in a good position.”
Carey knew he had potentially a top class stayer and was not frightened to go into the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 14 at his fourth race start and after winning immediately pencilled in a Melbourne Cup campaign.
The lightly raced Ethipoia has pleased Carey in his three lead up races this Spring, especially after finishing fourth to Ocean Park in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27 when the four year old wore the blinkers for the first time.
“We’ve been happy with his progress since the Cox Plate and he’s done everything he needed to please us,” Carey said.
With the blinkers on, jockey Rhys McLeod found himself up with the leaders in the Cox Plate which surprised most racegoers with his usual pattern of racing is to settle well back in the field.
Even though things didn’t work out how Carey had planned he was happy with the result and is looking forward to running in the Cup tomorrow.
“We were happy with his effort, he was solid all the way,” Carrey said.
“We were positive from the start from the barrier in an attempt to hold a good position and not waste the gate.”
“There were things that happened around him that allowed him to be more forward than we thought.”
“I’m just proud to have a runner in the Melbourne Cup.”
McLeod is virtually carrying the hopes of the nation when he is legged up onto Ethiopia as he is only one of a small number of Australian horses that has a chance to topple the European and US bred stayers in the Cup.
“This horse has an aerobic capacity that’s unbelievable,” McLeod said.
“I know it’s a big ride and I’ve been thinking a lot about it, but I’d go out and ride it the same no matter whose hopes were resting on me.”
Even though McLeod is not regarded as one of the high profile Melbourne jockeys, Carey said that he was never tempted to replace him with any of the big name riders.
“I’m very happy with the jockey and have been from day on,” Carey said.
“Rhys is an important part of what I do. He rides to instructions, There’s no second guessing.”
“Rhys would walk over hot coals for you. That’s the sort of bloke we want.”
Ethiopia is a $21 chance for Carey and McLeod to win their first Melbourne Cup and fend off the overseas raiders.
French stayer Americain is still at the top of betting at $6 with Mount Athos at $7 gaining support ahead of last year’s winner Dunaden at $7.50.
English galloper Red Cadeaux is at $9.50 with Maluckyday at $13.