Having missed the spring with a minor injury, Fortress Command is somewhat of a forgotten horse ahead of his return in the Hobartville Stakes at Rosehill.
But with handy juvenile form lines behind star three-year-olds Castelvecchio and Loving Gaby, the colt could be one of the surprise packets this autumn.
The winner of his first two starts at provincial tracks, Fortress Command was Group Three placed on a heavy track at Rosehill before finishing fourth in the Group One Champagne Stakes won by Castelvecchio.
He was preparing for a spring assault when he pulled up from a barrier trial short in his action and vets discovered a bone chip.
Trainer Gerald Ryan has always had high regard for the colt and says the time out has been beneficial.
“He had a little chip at the front of his joint so we took it out and gave him three months off,” Ryan said.
“He’s come back bigger and stronger and a lot better in the brain.
“He used to be a bit fiery but he’s not any more. He has come back really well.”
Fortress Command will face a rematch with Castelvecchio in Saturday’s Group Two Hobartville Stakes (1400m) and while Ryan is not expecting a boilover, he is anticipating a bold performance.
The trainer felt the horse was ridden too close to the speed in the Champagne and Jason Collett will be instructed to settle him midfield or worse on Saturday.
Stablemate Bottega will also have to come from the back if he is to make a winning return in the Sharp Extensive IT Handicap (1400m) after drawing barrier 15.
The Snitzel colt put the writing on the wall in the spring with a stakes placing at his third start then over-reacted to the addition of blinkers when he tailed out in the Bondi Stakes.
“Last prep we whacked a pair of blinkers on him which he didn’t like at all. He over-raced and pulled in them so you can take no notice of his last run,” Ryan said.
“He’s fit and he appears to go through wet ground. Barrier 15 at that time of day might be the best gate.”
Ryan said Expressway Stakes winner Standout continued to thrive and would have a barrier trial on Tuesday ahead of his next start in the Canterbury Stakes.