Trainer Rebecca Nairn is looking for Ethiopia to illustrate he is ready for a return to elite company by running a bold race in tomorrow's $100,000 Hahn Electrical Coolgardie Cup (1760m).
Breeder-owner Trevor Delroy had the choice of starting Ethiopia first-up at Belmont Park or Kalgoorlie, but decided the Coolgardie Cup was a better option.
The 2012 Australian Derby winner will head to the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4 if he runs up to expectations tomorrow.
Ethiopia pulled up sore in his hamstrings at his last start in the Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m) at Caulfield on February 1.
The son of ill-fated sire Helenus is the 61.5kg topweight in the Coolgardie Cup. His career prize money of $1,278,300 is more than three times that of his nearest rival Operational, who has earnt $405,010 and is the next highest-weighted galloper on 56.5kg.
The other eight runners are on the 54kg limit.
"He is really fit and well," Nairn said.
"He hasn't had a trial and you would think he is going to need that hit-out because he has not had that competitive work.
"He definitely has the miles in his legs, but with the 61.5kg he may need that good race hit-out."
Ethiopia had his final gallop at Lark Hill on Wednesday and was due to have some light exercise at the Kalgoorlie circuit this morning after arriving last night.
Delroy gave Ethiopia a long and slow preparation in the bush and the beach near his Yallingup property before moving the gelding to Nairn's.
Ethiopia has been at Nairn's Karnup stable for the past five weeks, having the finishing touches applied to his comeback.
"He looks a picture and we will see how his confidence is," Nairn said.
"Basically he got pulled-up last start and it will be interesting to see how he goes under race conditions.
"His feet problems were giving him muscle soreness over his hindquarters.
"He wasn't building up in the hindquarters, but now he has a bit more muscle. Because of the feet issues, he was pulling up with muscle soreness from his races."
Ethiopia's regular rider, Rhys McLeod, has flown to WA to ride the gelding, who is chasing just the second win of his 16-start career.
The TAB opened Ethiopia at $10 on Thursday and had eased him to $11 yesterday.
Express Service drifted marginally from $3.30 to $3.40, but still held favouritism for the cup, with True Gold firming from $6.50 into $6.
Prolific Kalgoorlie trainer Peter Fernie's veteran galloper Noble Park was specked from $31 into $21.
"He definitely has the miles in his legs, but with the 61.5kg he may need that good race hit-out.""Ethiopia's trainer *Rebecca Nairn *