A second Derby is firmly on the agenda for Fiveandahalfstar after the Victory Derby winner kicked off his Autumn Carnivalcampaign with an eye catching run in the Group 2 $220,000 Hyland Race Colours Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Fiveandahalfstar was having his first run since winning the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington in the Spring and showed that he was back on track with a closing second to the favourite Mulaazem.
The Peter Moody trained Mulaazem and Fiveandahalfstar raced one two for the entire race with Mulaazem holding on by a short neck to take out the Group 2 for the three year olds.
Trainer Anthony Cummings’ three year old will now head to the Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 9 before heading to Sydney to prepare for the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 13.
“He’ll take a good step off this,” Cummings said after the Autumn Stakes.
“He’s on his way to the Australian Derby via the Australian Cup and he’s in good shape.”
Melbourne’s leading jockey Glen Boss was having his first ride on Fiveandahalfstar and was very taken with the Hotel Grand gelding, saying that he will be very competitive over the Autumn.
“Amazing aerobic capacity,” Boss said after Fiveandahalfstar had sat on the pace for the entire way and was able to find something at the finish.
“He’s going to be competitive in anything that Anthony runs him in,” Boss said.
“As you saw last preparation as he went up in distance, his ratings went through the roof. That’s what he will do again.”
Moody will head towards the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 2 although he thinks Mulaazem could be suspect at the 1600m.
Mulaazem is the half brother to Darley’s champion two year old Sepoy with Moody thinking that his best distances will be around the 1400m mark.
“He was a big, gross colt and now he has trimmed down, he’s a magnificent individual,” Moody said.
“He went into the first run underdone, so I can only blame myself.
“He’s a high quality colt who is a half brother to a champion and now he’s a Group 2 winner with a hell of a pedigree. He’s certainly got a good future ahead of him.”
Mulaazem was stepping up to Group 2 company after winning a restricted race at Cranbourne on January 18 but was always in the betting before starting the $4 favourite.
Winning jockey Luke Nolen won’t dismissed the possibility that Mulaazem can run out a strong 1600m after makng his own luck with his ability to race in or near the lead.
“I never say never and he’s going to give himself every chance just by his racing style,” Nolen said.
“He has a fantastic attitude and he continues to improve.”