Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed spearheads a stable assault by Leon Macdonald on three Group One races at Flemington on Saturday including the Victoria Derby.
Southern Speed will line up in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), Majestic Music contests the Myer Classic (1600m) and Perfect Punch carries the trainer’s dreams of a second Victoria Derby (2500m).
Macdonald won the Classic three years ago with Rebel Raider but it will be even better this time around to share it with his son-in-law and now training partner Andrew Gluyas.
And Macdonald is justifiably proud that from an Adelaide stable that never reaches beyond 35 in work, they have runners in three Group Ones on such a big day.
“It’s not bad for a small stable to have three Group One runners on the same day and I think, three genuine chances,” Macdonald said.
Perfect Punch did himself no favours during last week’s Geelong Classic in which he finished third to Induna after pulling throughout once he crossed from the outside.
Rebel Raider also finished third in the Geelong race before his dazzling win over Whobegotyou in the Derby.
“Perfect Punch is still learning and he’s only got to settle to be in the finish,” Macdonald said.
“But in saying that, Manawanui impressed me on Saturday and his only flaw might be that he doesn’t get 2500 metres.”
Manawanui is TAB Sportsbet’s $2.25 Derby favourite following his second placing to Helmet in the Caulfield Guineas and his win in Saturday’s Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley, his first race beyond 1600 metres.
Induna is at $5.50 while Perfect Punch is a $16 chance.
Southern Speed was one of 26 horses nominated for the Mackinnon with many of her rivals having their final tune-up for the Melbourne Cup.
Rather than run in the Cox Plate, connections decided to give Southern Speed an extra week after the Caulfield Cup.
“She looks a million dollars,” Macdonald said.
“She has done everything right since the Caulfield Cup and I couldn’t be happier. She’s going into what looks like a winnable race.”
Majestic Music might have a tougher job in the Myer Classic if More Joyous is on her game but the mare has won two races at Flemington including the 2009 Group Two Edward Manifold.
She goes into the Myer off a fourth in the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and eighth in the Toorak Handicap, beaten less than four lengths by the winner King Mufhasa.
“She is going into the race right at her top but she will need to be,” Macdonald said.
“If More Joyous is at her top then that makes it hard.”
Five-time Group One winner More Joyous had a job to get past Sister Madly in the Tristarc Stakes last time out with her rider Nash Rawiller saying he did not think she was going as well as she had in the past but won on class.
Majestic Music will be ridden by Craig Newitt, Clare Lindop rides Perfect Punch while Craig Williams sticks with Southern Speed.