Tough stayer Ethiopia will begin his third Melbourne Cup campaign in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2520m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Ethiopia finished a credible seventh behind Fiorente in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 5, but he failed to fire in his two race starts during a summer preparation and finished at the tail of the field in the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day and the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield on February 1.
Connections elected to send Ethiopia back to Western Australia where he was bred and he was prepared for the Coolgardie Cup (1760m) in Kalgoorlie on August 31 by Rebecca Nairn, but he could finish no better than eighth with 61 and a half kilograms on his back.
Ethiopia returned to the stable of Pat Carey to begin preparations for the 2014 Melbourne Cup and he showed that he was ready for a return to racing when he finished second behind Kindergarden Kid in a barrier trial over 1550 metres at Cranbourne on September 22.
Carey told RSN this morning that he is happy with the physical condition of Ethiopia heading into The Bart Cummings and believes that he is on top of the injuries that have plagued the Helenus gelding in recent years.
“He had two runs in the autumn and he pulled up sore and he went home to Perth where he spelled and just started a long, slow build-up there at home,” Carey said.
“He raced in Perth and Kalgoorlie and it wasn’t a great result for the horse, but it was an arduous trip out there and back.
“He went home and got on the first home to Melbourne.
“He looks very well, he has plenty of work under his belt and we just tidied him up with a nice trial at Cranbourne and he went quiet well and he recovered well after the trial.
“Obviously he has been sparingly raced over the last few years and he has had a few injuries that he has had to deal with and he isn’t an easy horse to train in that regard.
“He has pretty bad feet and we seem to be on top of those now, but it has impacted in other ways.”
Ethiopia has not recorded a race win since he took out the 2012 edition of the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), but he has produced credible performances at the highest level of racing in events like the Cox Plate (2040m), Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and Melbourne Cup.
Ethiopia is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $201.