A veteran South Australian trainer with one good horse has toppled a field made up of some of the biggest names in racing in the $2.5 million Caulfield Cup.
Leon Macdonald, 71, produced his talented mare Southern Speed to give him the highlight of his career, taking the first leg of Melbourne spring Cups double by 1-1/2 lengths.
In the process he ran away with the dreams of trainers and owners who had travelled from the other side of the world and locals who have spent large fortunes in their bid to find a winner.
Macdonald, who is no stranger to big race success, said his philosophy was simple.
“Just give me one good horse for the spring and I’ll be happy,” he said.
For a man of modest ambitions and considerable skills, beating the odds – and the superstars – is nothing new.
Horses such as Umrum, Gold Guru and Rebel Raider have all given Macdonald major victories at monster odds.
“I trained my first Group One winner in 1985, and I liked it,” he said.
In second place came Green Moon, a blue-blooded entire owned by Lloyd Williams, the man who built Melbourne’s Crown Casino and one who has rolled the dice relentlessly in a bid to find big race winners around the world.
Third placegetter Tullamore is trained by Gai Waterhouse who turns over more than a hundred horses each season in a bid to find those who can win the big money races.
Further back in the field were such horses as Mighty High, trained in Hong Kong by expatriate Australian John Moore, the most successful trainer ever in Hong Kong and the son of legendary jockey George Moore.
Also back in the pack were the international raiders Manighar and Drunken Sailor from the stable of Luca Cumani, one of England’s most successful trainers, while the favourite December Draw, another imported runner, finished last after racing near the rear for all the way.
While the joy of victory was almost overwhelming for Macdonald, there was one regret – that regular jockey Clare Lindop hadn’t been in the saddle.
“Clare did all the early work with her, it’s not good,” he said.
Macdonald didn’t say so, but he made it clear the choice of jockey was not his.
In her place, top Melbourne jockey Craig Williams produced a perfect ride to claim his first Caulfield Cup.