Pat Carey is looking for lightning to strike twice when Bikila lines up in the ATC Australian Derby at Randwick.
Three years ago the Carey-trained Ethiopia stormed to his maiden victory in the 2400m Group One event.
Owner/breeder Trevor Delroy’s fascination with Africa has continued with Bikila named for Ethiopia’s dual Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila.
Delroy also raced the 2013 Queensland Oaks winner Gondokoro who was named after a 19th century trading station in Southern Sudan.
Bikila is the $201 outsider in the 10-horse field headed by Victoria Derby winner Preferment who shares top billing at $3.50 with the Godolphin galloper Hauraki.
“The race has fallen away to only 10 acceptors,” Carey said.
“We’ve got a horse that is fit and ready and we’re quite happy to take him there and give him his chance.”
Rhys McLeod, who won on Ethiopia, has been the regular rider of Bikila but is sidelined through suspension.
He has been replaced by Chad Schofield who was aboard Bikila when the gelding was successful over 1600m at Sandown in early March.
It was that victory that convinced Carey to press on to the Derby.
Following the Sandown victory Bikila went to Moonee Valley for the Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) finishing seventh to Chill Party in an effort that gave Carey heart the 2400m of the Derby would be ideal.
He says Bikila, who is by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, has a stout pedigree from his dam, the unraced Drawbridge.
“He’s lightly raced, as are a lot of the horses in this race,” Carey said.
“He’s open for improvement. He’s trained on well and he’s learned a lot in a short time.”
While Bikila is heading to the Derby at start number five, Ethiopia landed his victory at his fourth start off a month-long break.
“He did something special the day he won the Derby and subsequently he came out and ran fourth in the Cox Plate in the same year,” Carey said.
Ethiopia is back in Western Australia at Delroy’s Wyadup Valley Farm doing pre-training through the sand dunes and spending time at the beach down at Yallingup.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au