Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed will have to produce a first class performance in the Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield tomorrow to influence Craig Williams’ thoughts for the remainder of the Spring.
Williams is committed to riding last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden in this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups but his ride in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27 hasn’t been stamped.
The globetrotting jockey missed out on the winning ride on Dunaden in last year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington because he was out suspended but has been offered the Cox Plate ride on two year old triple Crown winner Pierro and Gai Waterhouse will be looking for an answer at the end of next week.
“I’m pretty much committed to Dunaden in both the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup. And I have to speak to Gai Waterhouse after the Bill Stutt Stakes next Friday night about riding Pierro in the Cox Plate,” Williams said.
“It gives you a little more time to assess his chances and it is up to Leon to make a decision. I think she is well weighted in the Caulfield Cup and then again she is going well at weight-for-age.”
Williams partnered Southern Speed to win last year’s Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) and trainer Leon Macdonald hasn’t made a firm decision if the mare will try to defend her Caulfield Cup crown or head to Moonee Valley for the Cox Plate.
Williams stuck with Southern Speed when she took out the Group 2 $300,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 8 from a very unlucky Manighar but it seems that Macdonald will be searching for a new rider after tomorrow.
Macdonald will wait until after the Underwood Stakes to decide if Southern Speed goes to the Caulfield Cup or the Cox Plate or both and will let Williams decide which way he wants to go.
“I’ll have a talk to Craig during the week to see what he’s really got in mind,” Macdonald said.
“But it’s his call.”
Macdonald has left his options open with the Caulfield Cup weight of 54.5kg looking enticing after the Southern Speed was back in the winner’s stall in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
“She’s not too badly weighted at all,” Macdonald said.
“The weights were raised last year and she carried 52.5kg, so I can’t complain about two kilos more.”
Williams will have to ride another first class tactical race on Southern Speed after drawing barrier eleven, one outside of Manighar who will be her main rival again.
Memsie Stakes winner Sincero has also drawn off the track and trainer Stephen Farley is more concerned at the wide gate than Sincero’s step up to 1800m second up.
“I have got no dramas with the distance rise, he’s very clean winded,” Farley said.
“He pulled up like he hadn’t been around in the Memsie Stakes so that’s why he’s there but he’ll improve again on Saturday.”
“He hasn’t done a real lot between runs. He had a gallop last Saturday because he’s reasonably fit.”
Michael Walker picked up the ride on Sincero after Memsie Stakes winning jockey Michael Rodd decided to stick with December Draw from the Mark Kavanagh stable and will have to be at his best to secure a good run from barrier twelve.
“It’s still up in the air what we will be doing at this stage,” Farley said.
“To me, it doesn’t look to be a lot of genuine speed.”
“I have got a bloke in Melbourne having a look and doing the speedmap for us. He’ll give me a ring and see if we can put any light on the subject.”
“I’m happy to leave it to Michael. If he comes out well from the gates, I don’t want him dragging the horse back.”
The Peter Moody trained Manighar has come up the early favourite for the Underwood Stakes at $2.50 with Sincero the second pick at $5.50 while Southern Speed holds down the third line of betting at $6.50.