2012 Victoria Derby winner Fiveandahalfstar is set to make his long awaited return from injury in the 2015 Southern Cross Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Fiveandahalfstar was a consistent performer at the highest level of racing and he scored an upset win in the 2012 Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) before he finished second against the older horses in both the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) and Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and took the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) during the 2013 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
The Hotel Grand gelding suffered a tendon injury during running of The BMW and a variety of leg issues have kept him away from racing since, but he showed that he was ready for a return to racing when he worked home fairly in a barrier trial over 838 metres at Royal Randwick on February 2.
Cummings said that it has been a long process returning Fiveandahalfstar to peak fitness and he told Racing Ahead that he is simply hoping the five-year-old can get through the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) without suffering another injury.
“He is really well,” Cummings said.
“He has had a very long steady build-up.
“He has been in the stable here for about ten weeks, but he had about three months work before that at a farm doing some slower work.
“He spent some time with a trotting trainer just trotting some long distances on a firm surface to help control his weight and get all the fibers in his leg to align correctly.
“Right now we are seeing the benefits of all of that work.
“He has had a few strong gallops now, he has had his trial and he seems fine.
“I just hoping for him to pull up sound.”
Cummings does not expect Fiveandahalfstar to be competitive in the Southern Cross Stakes this weekend, but he still believes that the two-time Group 1 winner is capable of competing at the highest level of racing during the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Fiveandahalfstar was included in the nominations for both the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) that were included earlier this week and Cummings said that the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) are also on the agenda for the tough stayer.
“It is as much a conditioning run,” Cummings said of the Southern Cross Stakes.
“At his best form he would struggle to be competitive at 1200 metres at this level and I don’t expect him to be competitive.
“As long as he goes around and enjoys the experience and tightens up a little bit.
“In a perfect world I would like to go to the Chipping Norton with him second-up, but he would need to show that he is forward enough to take that step.
“Going to the Chipping Norton gives us an opportunity to go to the Ranvet Stakes and that gives you the option to back-up a week later in The BMW or go back for the Doncaster.
“He could finish off in the George Ryder and go onto the Doncaster and then the Queen Elizabeth.
“There are a few decisions to be made about exactly what becomes his main target.”
Fiveandahalfstar is currently available at 2015 Southern Cross Stakes odds of $31 with Ladbrokes, while Driefontein ($3) is a clear favourite from Territory ($4.40) and Bull Point ($5).