Southern Speed in winning form but may Not Defend Caulfield Cup Crown

September 10th, 2012

Defending Caulfield Cup champion Southern Speed continued her excellent form with a narrow victory over Manighar in the Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) on Saturday.

The classy mare was ridden closer to the pace than usual by jockey Craig Williams and took up the running with 400 metres to go.

She raced away to a two length lead but was nearly caught on the line by the fast-finishing Manighar, who was held up for a run in the straight.

Williams, who thought Manighar had piped his horse at the post, believed that Southern Speed’s race fitness was the difference.

“I was confident with my mare and what I could do with her today,” he said.

“Leon summed her up best when he said when he gets her right on the day that she’s among the best weight-for-age horses in the country from a mile to 2,000 metres.”

Trainer Leon Macdonald was happy with the Southern Image-mares performance but surprised punters by refusing to guarantee that she would defend her Caulfield Cup title, with the 2012 Cox Plate also on the agenda.

“I think you have to make a decision between the two,” Macdonald said.

“It’s pretty hard to run in a Caulfield Cup and a Cox Plate two weeks in a row, but she’s going very well, that’s all I can say.”

Only Northerly (2002), Tobin Bronze (1967), Rising Fast (1954) and Tranquil Star (1942) have won the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate in the same year.

Southern Speed was backed into $18 in the Cox Plate betting market at bookmaker.com.au, after the run, while her Caulfield Cup quote remained at $21.

The five-year-old will run in the $353,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) before Macdonald decides if she will defend her Caulfield Cup crown.

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