There is plenty of excitement surrounding the much awaited return of dual Group 1 winner Fiveandahalfstar who runs first-up after nearly two lengths away from racing in Saturday’s Southern Cross Stakes at Randwick.
Trainer Anthony Cummings is particularly excited to welcome back to the track his Hotel Grand five-year-old, the gelding not having raced since his victory over Silent Achiever in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill in April of 2013.
“It’s been a while,” he admitted to Sky Sports Radio’s Racing HQ on Thursday morning.
“I’m just sitting here looking at his form with lines of ones and twos all at Group 1 level.
“He’s been a great result at the stable.
“He’s been away for nearly two years now so it’s great to have him back.”
It was discovered after that run, his second at Group 1 level following a 2012 Victoria Derby success to cap off a stellar three-year-old season, the horse had sprained a suspensory ligament.
“Basically he sprained a suspensory ligament in The BMW,” Cummings confirmed.
The injury was one that required lots of time to heal and constant monitoring.
“It takes a while to sort itself out,” he added.
Cummings said they had the horse nearly ready for a return but when heat was discovered on the affected area they pulled the pin not wanting the issue to fully resurface.
“We had him close to racing but it started to get a bit hot…so we stopped and went back into another sort of management program, he said.
Connections have shown plenty of patience with the $2.6 million earner whose other most notable runs included second place finishes behind Super Cool and Foreteller respectively in the Australian Cup and Ranvet Stakes two years ago.
Finally Fiveandahalfstar looks to have made a full recovery and, having been in work for the past six months without any further signs of trouble to the ligament, he’ll run first-up in the $150,000 Group 3 Adaptra Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) on Apollo Stakes Day this weekend.
“He’s only been in the stable here for 10 weeks,” Cummings said.
“So he will take great improvement from the run and the excitement of being back at the track will also be nice for him.”
Further cementing Cummings’ confidence the horse is fit enough to for his comeback was a successful trial at Randwick over 838m on February 2.
While not pushed when running seventh to Atmospherical, the fact he came through the hit-out without a problem put a big smile on Cummings’ face.
“He went around well,” Cummings said.
“He wasn’t there to show off at all but his finishing sectionals were above average for the day as you would expect from a horse of his class.
“He’s taken good improvement off that again.
“The only glitch we had, I wasn’t entirely happy with his work on Tuesday morning but he worked well again this morning so he goes to the races on Saturday.”
It’s an open Southern Cross Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au for Saturday’s early Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival showdown.
Four of the nine in the field are under double figures to win including the firming $3 favourite Driefontein for Gai Waterhouse.
Fiveandahalfstar, carrying to 60.5kg top weight from barrier three with Josh Parr in the saddle, meanwhile is a $31 outsider in betting.
That’s a fair price looking at how long he’s had off and with the race being over an unsuitably short distance.
“He’ll show what he can do without being a serious winning chance because of the distance,” Cummings said.
Cummings is just looking for the great galloper to hit the line well however and is looking forward to getting him out over further again and back in Group 1 company all going to plan this campaign.
He’s also a $34 chance for the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 11, one week after the Doncaster Mile.
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