Veteran gelding Ecuador has an opportunity to earn a late-career trip to Hong Kong when he continues his path to the Group One Epsom Handicap at Randwick.
The eight-year-old was a creditable third to Winx and Foxplay in the Group Two Warwick Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago, a run that encouraged trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott as Ecuador goes over the same distance in Saturday’s Group Two Tramway Stakes.
“His first-up performance was an indication that he’s returned in good order,” Bott said.
“I thought he gave a really honest performance and expect him to show improvement.”
Ecuador was a long-neck third in a tight finish in the Warwick Stakes and without Chris Waller’s gun duo to contend with he was the TAB’s $3.80 favourite on Friday.
Bott said Ecuador showed no signs of losing the desire to compete and an impressive showing over spring could earn him a crack at the Group One Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on December 10.
“He’s really enjoying his racing, and with older horses that have ability that’s the most important thing, that he’s in the right frame of mind,” Bott said.
The Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on September 30 might be the primary goal for the specialist miler this preparation, but Bott admitted the owners would relish an opportunity to take him to Asia.
“Now would be the ideal time in his career to try and capitalise on a trip like that if he were to be showing and holding that form all the way through,” he said.
“He certainly gets a strong mile – that’s his optimal distance. After the Epsom he could have one more run and look towards Hong Kong.”