Cummings wins in his own right

Cummings wins in his own right

TRAINER Anthony Cummings emerged from the illustrious shadow of his father, Bart, to win his first Victoria Derby on Saturday with a little-known stayer that he had bred and owned and was positive was destined for great things.

A $41 chance, Fiveandahalfstar raced on the speed and after taking control of the race with 400m to go clearly outstayed his rivals to reinforce Cummings’s opinion of the three-year-old.

Cummings said moments after Fiveandahalfstar’s win that as a boy he’d seen his father win six Derbys and ”now I know how good the feeling is”.

Cummings said he’d planned a spring carnival for Fiveandahalfstar but even as late as last weekend he wasn’t sure if Fiveandahalfstar would line up in Saturday’s group 1 staying classic.

”I always knew he had ability and I was convinced he would run the distance … I knew he fitted in to the spring carnival but whether it was next Thursday or in the Derby, I knew he would be extremely hard to beat.

”And really, I’m glad it was today,” Cummings said.

Fiveandahalfstar wasn’t given the tried and true build-up events before the Derby with Cummings preferring to keep his young horse in Sydney before the four days of the Flemington Spring Carnival.

He said he’s always wanted the horses to shuttle between his Melbourne and Sydney stable believing it was important to educate them in both ways of racing.

”I think it’s important that they get the experience of being in both stables so it just rounds them off and is an important feature of their young education.

”[Fiveandahalfstar] is a nice horse and he is obviously an above average stayer, he has got a fairly bold running style, much like his old man, Hotel Grand, who was like that.

”We probably never really saw the best of Hotel Grand but he was a quality racehorse and one of the best I have trained so it’s nice to get one of his sons to come here and do the job.”

Cummings also believed that his final push to start Fiveandahalfstar came after considering the situation surrounding the favourite, It’s A Dundeel. ”I was looking at It’s A Dundeel and thought that he was going to be pretty tough to beat but seeing him beaten at Moonee Valley last Saturday just opened the door.”

Cummings said he bought Hotel Grand’s mother for $33,000 at the Sydney Yearling Sales. She eventually became a broodmare producing Hotel Grand, which was a dual group 1 winner. ”I also bought Fiveandahalfstar’s mother Cryptic Miss at a sale up in Scone and she won a maiden over 2100m and broke down in winning so it’s nice to put all of them together and come up with a winning group one combination,” he said.

The favourite starting at $2.70 was a great disappointment settling 13th in the early stages and under hard riding managed to finish seventh, but many lengths behind the winner.

”He [It’s A Dundeel] tried his guts out. He’s a very tired horse,” jockey James McDonald said. ”I pulled him up and he just stopped and paused. You know he’s a tired three-year-old after all of that. ‘Let’s bring him back in the autumn, he’s going to be a lovely colt in time.”

Fiveandahalfstar was a noted drifter in the market blowing from $25 out to $41 but after a clever ride by jockey Damien Oliver the three-year-old proved the superior stayer. ”We had a chat on Wednesday morning after working him and we came to the conclusion that we should run him (Fiveandahalfstar) because he worked well.

”With the favourite [It’s A Dundeel] getting beaten it was opened up and usually Anthony [Cummings] doesn’t need much talking to run in races but I’m glad I did with this one,” Oliver said.

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