Maiden gelding Ethiopia lands AJC Derby
Report: Australia, Saturday
Randwick: David Jones Australian Derby (Group 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo
HAVING just the fourth start of his life, Ethiopia (Pat Carey/ Rhys McLeod) became the first maiden since Silver Sharpe in 1970 to win the Australian Derby on Saturday.
Ethiopia's lack of experience going into the nation's senior Classic dissuaded punters but not his trainer Pat Carey and underrated jockey Rhys McLeod.
Carey's trust was not misplaced with McLeod bringing the gelding with a well-timed run down the outside to beat Polish Knight by a short neck.
Ethiopia was a market drifter to 14-1 (from 10) with Laser Hawk edging New Zealand filly Silent Achiever for favouritism.
But Carey had plotted his path with precision, drawing on his experience with Cedarberg who didn't win but was an unlucky seventh two years ago.
Cedarberg went on the following year to win the BMW but died in a track accident last August when he was being prepared for a Cups campaign.
"There are a lot of comparisons between the two horses," Carey said. "This fellow is very raw but is a classic stayer in the making. This is a special moment for me and for Rhys."
Ethiopia is raced by his West Australian breeder Trevor Delroy as was Cedarberg, with both horses by 2002 Victoria Derby winner Helenus.
Laser Hawk ran an even race without threatening theleading pair to run third, a length and a quarter away. Silent Achiever, the New Zealand Derby winner, dropped out at the tail of the field and made some ground late but lacked the brilliant sprint she had shown in the past.
The Derbyvictory was the third at Group 1 level for the somewhat unheralded 29-year-old McLeod who joined the Carey stable as a 15-year-old.
"Rhys came to me for work experience weighing 28 kilos and he's been with me all the time," Carey said. "I hope this win can be special for his career."