2015 The Galaxy Target for Villa Verde

Smart Group 2 winning grey Villa Verde is nearing her Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival return with trainer Anthony Cummings confirming the mare will again target The Galaxy 2015 in March.

Villa Verde

Villa Verde will resume with a title defense in the 2015 Challenge Stakes in Sydney next month before tackling the Group 1 The Galaxy. Photo: Steve Hart.

The four-year-old daughter of Not A Single doubt has been working well according to Cummings he spoke with Sky Sports Radio’s Racing HQ on Thursday morning, including in her first official trial of the year on Tuesday.

She ran in a 740m hit-out at Randwick with James McDonald aboard and came within a head of the John Thompson-trained Epsom Handicap placegetter Hooked who won in 44 seconds flat.

“Villa Verde trialled really well earlier in the week,” Cummings said.

“She dragged James all the way to the post….nice time.”

Cummings confirmed plans to kick off Villa Verde’s new campaign the same way she did last autumn with a first-up run in the $400,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick on March 7.

“The intention is to run her in the two races she ran in last year,” he said.

Villa Verde won the weight-for-age Challenge Stakes in her resuming run last year breaking a lengthy drought that went back to her three length black type win on Melbourne Cup Day in 2012, which was just her second career start.

She kicked off her career under the tutelage of Shaun Dwyer but was transferred to Cummings’ care early last year, the Challenge Stakes her debut for the stable.

Following that impressive performance Cummings stepped her up to elite level company for the $400,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens.

She put in a good effort that day, coming from a long way back after jumping from the outside barrier (13 of 13) to finish only one and a half lengths away third behind Tiger Tees (1st) and Anatina (2nd).

The Galaxy 2015 is again on the agenda then for Villa Verde, the sprint handicap to run on Golden Slipper Day, Saturday March 21.

Another soon-to-return stable star for Cummings is his Testa Rossa six-year-old Fontelina.

Last seen finishing second when just nosed out of the win by Spirit Of Boom in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley back in March, the gelding is down to run first-up in the $500,000 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 7.

Cummings is most excited however about the highly-anticipated return of Fiveandahalfstar this weekend.

Having spent nearly two years sidelined with a suspensory ligament strain The BMW winner runs first-up in the $150,000 Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

While Cummings knows the distance is short of the horse’s preferred, he is hoping for a strong run indicating the ultra-consistent Hotel Grand gelding can back into Group 1 company this autumn.

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