This Saturday sees the start of Group 1 racing in Australia for another season, the 2012 CF Orr Stakes to take centre stage at Caulfield, and while their entry is a Caulfield Cup winner, Leon MacDonald and Andrew Gluyas know they are likely running for second behind Black Caviar with Southern Speed.
The dynamic mares were two of the 15 nominations taken for the $400,000 Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) this year, Peter Moody’s undefeated Bel Esprit five-year-old Black Caviar the headline attraction.
While Black Caviar will be out to extend her unbeaten career record to 18 straight victories, smart Southern Image mare Southern Speed will be out for her sixth win from 15 starts.
Black Caviar has netted over $4.5 million in prize money to date with seven Group 1 victories, Southern Speed has amassed just under half of that with $2.1 million, her sole elite level success coming in last year’s Caulfield Cup.
Both go to the CF Orr Stakes 2012 second-up for the season on the back of resuming wins, Black Caviar taking out the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 27 while Southern Speed won the Listed John Dillon Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield one day earlier.
One stat in Southern Speed’s favour, however, is her record of two wins from three attempts over the 1400 metres; Black Caviar has never raced over further than 1200m.
Still, the distance looks to be of little concern for the hulking sprint star and if anyone is wary of critiquing the world’s highest-rated mare it is Southern Speed’s Leon Macdonald who co-trains the Caulfield Cup hero with son-in-law Glyas.
“Black Caviar was awesome (first-up),” Macdonald said.
“She looks unbeatable and we look like we’re running for second but we’re not backing away from the fight.”
Coming through the John Dillon win well, Southern Speed looks the biggest danger of the CF Orr Stakes nominees to the ‘Black Flash’, but there will still be only a few Luxbet punters backing her for the Win over the Place.
“Southern Speed pulled up well and looks a million dollars,” Macdonald said.
“She’s probably the most capable one there to take Black Caviar on.
“Her sectionals from the John Dillon were excellent and she came home the last 600 metres in 33.7 (seconds) the last 400 in 22.5 and the last furlong in 11.1.”
It is a bumper autumn carnival on the cards for Southern Speed who has a number of other Group 1 targets on the agenda win or lose on Saturday.
Following the CF Orr Stakes she will go to the $200,000 Group 2 St George Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 25 (Blue Diamond Stakes Day) before shooting for an elite-level weight-for-age triple running in the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 3, the $400,000 Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (200m) at Rosehill on March 24 and then the $2.25 million Group 1 The BMW (2400m) back at Rosehill on April 7 (Golden Slipper Day).
Black Caviar’s autumn plans, on the other hand, are still very much in the air with Moody yet to rule her out of the $750,000 Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) next up at Flemington Saturday week.
“She will have to have a 1000 metre gallop at Caulfield that morning (February 18) so we might as well go to Flemington for prize money,” he said.
Bookmark us here at Races.com.au for the full 2012 CF Orr Stakes field, barriers and preview later in the week.
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