Champion jockey Craig Williams is only one win away from becoming the eighth rider to win the big four majors after Southern Speed scored an emphatic victory in the Caulfield Cup.
The Melbourne Cup is the only one of the quartet of features missing after Williams’ victories on Miss Finland and Fields Of Omagh in the 2006 Golden Slipper Stakes and Cox Plate respectively and Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
A four-time Melbourne premier rider, Williams said Southern Speed’s win was a career highlight and in many ways a day of redemption for his defeat on Leica Falcon in the 2005 Cup.
With average luck Leica Falcon may very well have won that year and on Saturday Williams finally got the breaks.
“It (Leica Falcon) left a bad taste in my mouth but that is history now,” Williams said.
Williams picked up the ride on Southern Speed after stable rider Clare Lindop was put off the mare and Dan Nikolic couldn’t ride her in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
Williams finished fourth on her in the 2000-metre Turnbull and the natural lightweight was always going to ride her in the Caulfield Cup at 52.5kg providing she got a start.
She was only just inside the top 40 in qualifying order and lined up on Saturday with number 18 saddlecloth to the relief of Williams and connections.
Co-trainer Leon Macdonald knew he had a fit horse and his basic instructions to Williams finished with “just go and win and win easy.”
Southern Speed threw out her challenge at the top of the straight and charged away to win by 1-1/2 lengths from Green Moon and Tullamore.
The only mare in the Cup, Southern Speed, had gate three and Williams had her fourth on the rails all the way.
“She gave me a really good run throughout from the draw and made it easy for me,” Williams said.
“Niwot gave me a nice run out (of the straight) then when Green Moon went forward I knew he wouldn’t give up.
“We saw how tough he was when he won the Newcastle Cup and I thought we have just got to get out off his back.
“We didn’t over-rush her. I just built her up and she went through her gears.
“When I pressed the button we had to fight for 150 metres with Green Moon then when she got on terms I got really serious on her and asked her for bit more and she really ran away with it.
“She was very commanding at the end. Very dominant.”
Williams acknowledged Lindop who galloped Southern Speed during the week despite having to watch the race from the stands.
“She put the finishing touches on her for me and I was just lucky (to ride Southern Speed in the Cup),” Williams said.
“To win this race is fantastic. It was one of the four majors and I have been lucky enough to win three.”
The challenge now for Williams is to try to find a mount for the Melbourne Cup as Southern Speed wasn’t even nominated for the race.