Australian Derby winner Ethiopia is set to take his place at Flemington next Tuesday and is among the forty-six second acceptances for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Final acceptances for the Cup will be held on Saturday at 4.30pm Victorian time following the huge Derby Day meeting at Flemington.
Mornington trainer Pat Carey has reported that Ethiopia has pulled up extremely well after running an enormous race to finished fourth to Ocean Park in last Saturday’s Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
“He has come through the race extremely well and as long as he continues to do well this week, we’ll go to the Cup next Tuesday,” Carey said.
Jockey Rhys McLeod surprised all when Ethiopia, who was wearing blinkers of the first time, led the Cox Plate field out of the straight the first time compared to his usual racing pattern of getting well back in the field.
And despite doing a lot of the hard work up front, the four year old stuck to his guns and held on just missing out on third place with the Gai Waterhouse trained Pierro finishing solidly to fill third spot to be first home of the top Sydney trainers three Cox Plate runners.
With that tough Cox Plate run under his belt, Carey is going into next Tuesday’s Cup with confidence knowing that Ethiopia is one of the top locally trained stayers chances in a field that will be dominated by overseas horses.
“Now he comes back to a handicap with that really tough run under his belt, meets all the good horses better at the weights and we know he can really stay,” Carey said.
Ethipoia showed that he is well up to top class weight for age standard with the surprise on pace effort at his third run back since winning the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 14.
The Peter Moody trained Vatuvei was penalised 1kg for the Melbourne Cup after winning the Group 2 $250,000 Drake International Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley last Saturday but still won’t have enough weight to force a place in the final twenty-four horse field and is still number forty-three in the order of entry.
Vatuvei appreciated the step up to 2500m and dashed the hopes of several Melbourne Cup hopefuls with a slashing ride from Luke Nolen to get the four year old back into the winner’s circle.
Several top trainers including Moody and David Hayes are disappointed that the International Cup along with the Group 2 $220,000 Sportingbet Herbert Power (2400m) at Caulfield and the Group 3 $300,000 Centrebet Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong aren’t ballot free races for the Melbourne Cup, enabling more local horse a chance of gaining a start.