Two-time Group 1 champion Fiveandahalfstar was unable to make much of a competitive impact through a four start autumn campaign, but trainer Anthony Cummings has revealed the horse has taken huge benefit from his time away from racing and is primed for a stand 2015 Spring Carnival campaign.
Having spent close to two years in the paddock with a string of unfortunate ailments, Fiveandahalfstar beat only one runner home in the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) first-up this year; progressing to tenth in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) and sixth in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) before ending his campaign eleventh of twelve in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Day 2 of The Championships.
Cummings told Racing Ahead the classy son of Hotel Grand has produced several impressive pieces of work in the lead-up to his Spring Carnival return but will complete a barrier trial before going to the races.
“The last week has probably been the best week he’s had in a couple of years honestly, he just looks really healthy and well,” he said.
“He’s building really well and the right way.
“Whether he’s going to be up to some of the bigger races during the spring I’m not sure – time might beat him there in some respects but right now I’m really happy with him.
“He’s a couple of weeks off a trial and once we reach that point we’ll be able to better determine a program for him.
“He’s full of himself, feeling really well and really light on his feet of a morning. When you see horses with his level of ability and the way they go about the slow paces, it just looks ridiculously easy.
“Quite keen to see that turn up for a race day performance.”
Cummings included Fiveandahalfstar in 2015 Cox Plate nominations two weeks ago, but revealed he will target a race like the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) on October 3rd to warrant a berth in the Moonee Valley feature race.
“He’s got a nomination in the Cox Plate and time might beat him, but certainly the ability is there and it’s the right track and distance for him,” Cummings said.
“He need to win something between now and then to force that case and the Epsom probably steps up as a likely first port of call to do that.”
Capping a standout debut year with success in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) in 2012, Fiveandahalfstar arguably found career-best form to date through the 2013 Autumn Carnival; finishing second in each of the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) and Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) before taking out the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) most notably.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best early 2015 Cox Plate odds, for which Fiveandahalfstar can be taken at a quote of $101 for success.