Lightly raced stayer Bikila will have to step up in the early part of the spring to have any chance of contesting the bigger races this year.
The Street Sense four-year-old began the quest with a barrier trial at Cranbourne on Friday, his first serious hit-out since finishing fourth behind Mongolian Khan in the Australian Derby at Randwick in April.
The winner of a Sandown benchmark 70 race for three-year-olds from his five racetrack appearances, Bikila is nominated for the Caulfield Cup and will also be entered for the Melbourne Cup.
But trainer Pat Carey knows he’s in for a battle to get a run in those races unless he can get his rating up.
And the only way to be doing that is through winning races.
“He’s got a low rating so our first thing is to pick him up in the ratings,” Carey said.
“Our focus is just in trying to get his rating up at the moment.
“He’s got nominations but there’s no reality without a rating, so he’s got to win his way in.”
Bikila is raced by Trevor Delroy who has a fascination with Africa and names his horses accordingly.
Ethiopia broke his maiden in the 2012 Australian Derby while the 2013 Queensland Oaks was just the second win for Gondokoro, named for a trading station in Southern Sudan.
Bikila, named after Kenya’s famous long-distance runner Abebe Bikila, was given a fairly easy time in his trial on Friday, beating just one home behind Escado over 1190m.
Carey said a hoof problem had delayed Bikila’s return to work and Friday’s trial was his first serious hit-out of the preparation.
“He’s been behind the eight-ball so we’ve got a bit of work ahead of us,” Carey said.
Article from justhorseracing.com.au