Southern Speed’s recent form and the defection of some high profile runners have given trainer Leon Macdonald confidence in the mare going into Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
The four-year-old’s past three starts in Melbourne have yielded an unlucky fourth in the Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m), second in the Group One Underwood (1800m) and another fourth in the Group One Turnbull (2000m) won by Caulfield Cup favourite December Draw.
Macdonald, who trains in Adelaide in partnership with his son-in-law Andrew Gluyas, is also eager to see what Southern Speed can do now that she is up to 2400 metres for the first time.
“The race has fallen away a bit and I think Southern Speed is going as well as anything else,” Macdonald said.
“December Draw won well the other day but he has yet to be tested over 2400 metres and I think it’s what this mare wants.
“She is out of a Zabeel mare and bred to be a stayer.”
The Mark Kavanagh-trained December Draw has won five of his six Australian starts but has also not been extended to 2400 metres ahead of Saturday.
Final acceptances for the Cup are taken on Tuesday morning with former favourite Lights Of Heaven a doubtful starter and the Lloyd Williams-owned imports At First Sight and Midas Touch withdrawn.
December Draw remained at $2.50 on Monday ahead of German horse Lucas Cranach at $8.50 after $101 was on offer before his arrival at the Freedman stable in Australia.
Southern Speed is at $26 with Macdonald hoping for a barrier on the inside half of the field when the draw is done on Wednesday.
“I’d like her to draw inside ten,” he said.
“She’s got enough pace to put herself into a spot and it would mean she wouldn’t have to go around the field.
“If she can draw a good alley then I certainly think she is better than a $26 chance.”
Although it is often said four-year-old mares have an advantage in the Caulfield Cup, it has been a decade since Ethereal won the race on her way to victory in the Melbourne Cup.
That race is not on Southern Speed’s agenda but Macdonald is keen to back her up in the Cox Plate if she performs up to expectations at Caulfield.
“If she won the Caulfield Cup then she would go to the Cox Plate,” he said.
“She has a great constitution.”
Craig Williams, who rode Southern Speed in the Turnbull, retains the mount at Caulfield.