As an eight-year-old Ecuador now has his runs carefully spaced, but the durable gelding shows no signs of losing impetus or enthusiasm.
Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s softly-softly approach is designed to have one of the stable favourites primed to justify his favouritism for Saturday’s Group Three Hawkesbury Gold Cup.
Ecuador had a break after the Group Three Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington in November, returning for the training partnership in the Group Three Doncaster Prelude (1500m) at Rosehill on March 31.
He finished a game second to the in-form Cellarman and has recovered well for his tilt at one of a trio of Group Three features at the stand-alone meeting.
“We’ve just learnt with him to keep him fresh, space his runs and he seems to really appreciate that,” Bott said.
“He’s ticking over lovely, he’s really loving his training, he’s thriving,. You wouldn’t know his age.
“It gives you a real kick out of training these types of horses to see them sustain racing preparations.”
Ecuador generally had a fortnight between runs earlier in his career but a tussle with Winx in the Group Two Warwick Stakes (1400m) at the start of his last preparation in August eventually forced a rethink.
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“He ran a good third behind Winx and that may have just taken the gas out of him for his next couple of runs,” Bott said.
“Later in the preparation we were able to give him a bit of time between runs and he responded really well.”
Ecuador had three trials before the Doncaster Prelude and Bott expected him to make further improvement as he prepares for a trip to the Scone carnival and then Queensland.
“He was forward enough for his first run, he’s come on from that and he looks really well placed,” Bott said.
Ecuador, whose only other start at the track was in April 2013, led the TAB market on Friday at $3.70 while the Chris Waller-trained Mister Sea Wolf and Godolphin’s Duca Valentinois were the joint $6 second elects.
Local hopes rest with the Brad Widdup-trained Lovan, who backs up from a Benchmark Handicap win over 2000m on her home track on April 17.
Widdup also entered Lovani ($15) in the Provincial Stayers’ Handicap (2100m) but opted to bring her back in distance after she drew a wide gate with 58kg.
“She gets in better in the Cup with 53 on her back and a soft draw. We’d just like some rain now,” he said.