The autumn record of recent Caulfield Cup winners isn’t too flash but trainer Leon Macdonald is confident Southern Speed can buck the trend.
The four-year-old takes the first steps of her ambitious campaign next week at the Australia Day meeting at Caulfield.
Macdonald, who trains in partnership in Adelaide with his son in law Andrew Gluyas, is not expecting too much from the mare in the Listed John Dillon Stakes (1400m) but the race is an important springboard.
“Being a handicap she will get a lot of weight, Macdonald said.
“And her first-up record is not conclusive but she’s got to start somewhere and it fits in with her campaign.
“Everything is going along nicely. She looks a million dollars and has dappled right up.
“After the Dillon all her races will be at weight-for-age.”
Southern Speed won the Caulfield Cup at her sixth start in what was only her second preparation.
She had a few weeks off in a paddock in Victoria, retaining her residual fitness on the water walker, and returned to Morphettville in December.
After the John Dillon, Southern Speed will contest the Group One C F Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 11 then step up to 1800 metres two weeks later in the Group Two St George Stakes before the Australian Cup (2000m) on March 10.
All going well, Macdonald plans to take her to Sydney for the Rosehill feature Group One double of the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) on March 24 and the BMW (2400m) on April 7.
The only Caulfield Cup winner in the past 20 years to come back in the autumn and take out the Australian Cup is Northerly in 2002-03 with Let’s Elope achieving the feat in 1991-92.
You need to go back to 1957-58 and Tulloch to find the last Caulfield Cup winner to win the Ranvet although Might And Power came close in 1998 when beaten by the Macdonald-trained three-year-old Gold Guru before turning the tables in the BMW, while dual Cups winner Ethereal won the BMW in 2002.
While Southern Speed has a long way to go before she can be compared to horses of the calibre of Northerly and Might And Power, Macdonald has no doubts she can withstand the rigours of her planned campaign.
“It’s six starts, that’s not too many,” he said.