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Ecuador aiming for G1 breakthrough

An unorthodox lead-in to the Australian Cup is no concern for connections of Ecuador who will be chasing his first Group One win in the weight-for-age race.

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained seven-year-old has had four 1400m starts so far this campaign and now steps to 2000m in Saturday’s $1.5 million feature at Flemington.

Bott admitted the original plan had been to head to the Australian Cup via the Group Two Peter Young Stakes (1800m) but instead the stable decided to give him his chance in the Group One Futurity Stakes over 1400m.

Ecuador finished third to Black Heart Bart and Tosen Stardom in the Futurity, beaten just over half a length, after also running third in the Group One C F Orr Stakes over the Caulfield 1400m.

The gelding had won two 1400m races in Sydney at the start of his campaign before heading south and Bott is looking forward to Ecuador stepping up to a distance he believes is more suitable on Saturday.

“We don’t have any concerns stepping up in trip,” Bott said.

“It wasn’t the original plan to have the two runs at the 1400 metres but going into each of those two Group One races he was a live chance and when you’ve got a horse in career-best form it’s hard to knock back the opportunity to give him a crack at it.

“We were mindful of going to the Australian Cup eventually and we didn’t have any concerns keeping him at the 1400 and then stepping straight up to the 2000 metres.”

Ecuador’s other placing at the elite level came when he ran second to Winx in the 2015 Epsom Handicap (1600m) in Sydney.

To be ridden by his regular jockey Adam Hyeronimus, Ecuador is at $21 for the Australian Cup with acceptances to be taken on Wednesday.

“I’m really looking forward to Saturday, particularly just being able to finally step him up in trip this campaign,” Bott said.

“He’s in a good space and we’re happy on all fronts with him going into the race.

“If he carries that form through to this race, which we think he can do, I think he will be right in this.

“Hopefully Saturday is his chance to break through for a well-deserved Group One victory.”

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