Reigning Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed is being considered for a shot at the Cox Plate 2012 in October with her performance in earlier Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival features including the Underwood Stakes to determine whether she goes to the weight-for-age classic or defends her title in the Cup.
The five-year-old mare showed she was ready for a big spring when she enjoyed an easy three length victory second-up in the Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville last weekend.
Originally her campaign was to be focused on getting her to the $2.65 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 20 where she would vie for back-to-back wins in the world’s richest mile and a half handicap.
However co-trainer Leon Macdonald has since indicated that there is a chance the $2.5 million earning daughter of Southern Image could bypass the 2012 Caulfield Cup in favour of the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley the following Saturday, October 27.
Earlier this week ace hoop Craig Williams, who rode Southern Speed to victory in last year’s Caulfield Cup, confirmed he would take the mount on reigning Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden when the French-trained stayer returns down under to tackle the spring cups double.
Macdonald has accepted Williams’ decision graciously however with the jockey still the number one choice to ride Southern Speed in her earlier spring runs including the $400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 9 – her performance in which will decide whether she goes to the Cox Plate or not.
“With Craig booked for Dunaden in the Cup then we should be able to keep him on Southern Speed in the lead-up races,” Macdonald said.
“If she should win the Underwood and win it well, then we may decide the Cox Plate is the way to go.”
Macdonald is confident that Southern Speed would handle the notoriously tight Moonee Valley circuit if she ran in the Cox Plate, the mare’s only previous run at the course being a fourth to King’s Rose in last year’s Stocks Stakes over the mile.
“She had an unlucky run but still finished fourth there in the Stocks Stakes last year behind King’s Rose and (subsequent Cox Plate winner) Pinker Pinker so I have no worries about the track,” he said.
Williams will also partner her for her next-up start in the $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 8.
Should connections decide to go to the Caulfield Cup with Southern Speed, Macdonald is confident there will be plenty of suitable hoops lining up for the ride especially with her expected weight allocation of around 54.5kg.
“I expect her to get around 54 to 54-1/2 kilos in the Caulfield Cup and if she goes there I don’t think we’ll have any trouble finding someone to ride her,” he said.
“But there is no firm decision on the Cup, her next couple of runs will tell us.”
Southern Speed is currently rated a $21 chance in the Caulfield Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au equal with the likes of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fat Al and exciting European raiders Gatewood and Quest For Peace, and she is at the same price in the Cox Plate betting markets.
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