Ethiopa has firmed from $26 to $17 to win the Cup.Photo: Getty Images
THE first tangible clue that local stayer Ethiopia will progress from today's $3 million Cox Plate to start in the Melbourne Cup in 10 days came after a significant flow of money came for the four-year-old to win Australia's premier staying event.
Ethiopa, who won the Australian Derby in April this year, has firmed from $26 to $17 to win the Cup, with one Oaks-Melbourne Cup feature double of $570,000 to a $1000 bracketing Ethiopia with stablemate Gondokoro recorded with Centrebet.
Alan Eskander, the principal of Betstar, said that in the past 24 hours the flow of money for Ethiopia to keep the Melbourne Cup in Australia had been in stark contrast for the support for the internationals.
''It's a combination of two factors. Firstly he must be going well, with the Cox Plate a race that will just top him off for the Melbourne Cup, and secondly the horse is assured of a run in the Cup while some others from here and overseas are far from certain starters,'' Eskander said yesterday.
''He showed in Sydney when he just joined in over the final stages and trounced his rivals that he is a serious racehorse. I know we are waiting to see how he comes through the Cox Plate but the sheer weight of money is a pointer to him being in good shape.''
Trainer Pat Carey said yesterday the best indication would be that it's the owner's money.
Carey said at the outset of the spring carnival that he would adopt a conservative approach to Ethiopia's campaign and has repeatedly said that he would not over burden the four-year-old.
Carey always maintained that Australian stayers such as Ethiopia always faced an uphill battle against the fully seasoned overseas stayers, and believed that seasoning only came with patience.
On Tuesday morning, Ethiopia looked very strong galloping at Moonee Valley with jockey Rhys McLeod in the saddle.
McLeod, who also rode the horse in the Australian Derby, is keen to have the horse settle in the early stages of today's Cox Plate.
''As long as he's got a clear run from the half-mile onwards he's got a good chance,'' McLeod said.
''He's come back this time in a much stronger, better horse.
''I think he's in this race right up to his ears.''
The strongest threat, according to McLeod, will be the Turnbull Stakes winner Green Moon.
''It's a very classy field. I really like Green Moon. He's a strong stayer,'' McLeod said. ''The three-year-olds, I like too - 2000 metres is a bit of a question mark on them, but if they can step up they'll be hard to beat.''