By Ray Hickson
Adam Hyeronimus knows hardy galloper Ecuador well enough to get an idea how he’s feeling just by looking at him at trackwork in the mornings.
It’s not really a surprise, Hyeronimus has been riding the eight-year-old for more than five years and at only 27 can’t think of another horse he’s been associated with for longer.
They first combined at the gelding’s third start - on Anzac Day in 2013 – and among 17 races as a team they’ve taken out three Listed races in their five wins, plus a couple of Group 1 placings.
The pair chase another feature win in Saturday’s Group 3 $200,000 Livamol Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) and Hyeronimus says the horse is telling him he’s in A1 order.
“With having such a long association and riding him all the time as soon as I get on I know that he’s happy and bright or if he’s not,’’ he said.
“I can pretty much tell that before I get on him. He’s bright as a button and ready to go, he’s bouncing around and I can’t fault him.’’
Ecuador started his current campaign for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott with a typically game second in the Group 3 Doncaster Prelude (1500m) at Rosehill four weeks ago.
That was his first run since a staying campaign in the spring and a prep that started with a gutbusting third behind Winx in that famous Warwick Stakes where the champ missed the start by four lengths.
“I was pleased with his first-up run, although he didn’t dash away he picked up and kept whacking away,’’ he said.
“He was beaten by a horse (Cellarman) that was going very well. He feels well, he’s fit as a fiddle and that little freshen up between runs works well.’’
Punters Intel data backs up what Hyeronimus said about the gelding lacking a dash – his last 600m of 34.24 was only the seventh fastest of the race but his 200m splits were fairly consistent.
Second-up last preparation he ran fourth behind Happy Clapper in the Tramway Stakes and Hyeronimus sees no reason why the $3.50 favourite with TAB can’t post his 11th career win.
“Gai and Adrian have laid a good foundation with the three trials and the one run and I know I’m on the best horse in the race and I’ll ride him accordingly,’’ he said.
Ecuador runs second to Cellarman in the Doncaster Prelude at Rosehill
“He’s been an old marvel, he’s a pleasure to have around the stable and I’m sure Gai and Adrian enjoy training him.
“He’s drawn out a bit which is ideal so I can take my time. If I have to take it up and bowl him along, well I’m happy to because I know I’m on a fit horse.’’
Waterhouse and Bott won last year's Hawkesbury Cup with another tough front-running type in Fabrizio while Waterhouse has another three Cups dating back to 2003.
Stablemate Stonebrook is coming off his worst effort in eight starts, a last placing behind Osborne Bulls at Rosehill on March 31, into the Blakes Marine Handicap (1300m).
Hyeronimus said he expects the four-year-old, $5.50 with TAB, to bounce back to the form that saw him narrowly beaten first-up.
“From the time he jumped the other day I was never happy and could never get him into a rhythm,’’ he said.
“I think the track played a factor, it’d had a lot of racing on it at that stage and he couldn’t get comfortable. He’s gone back to the trials and gone well and his work on Monday morning was very good.’’