Southern Speed did enough last Saturday at Flemington to turn the tables on arch rival Manighar, but last year’s Caulfield Cup winner didn’t do enough to commit her rider Craig Williams for the rest of the Spring.
The Leon Macdonald trained mare scored her first win over Manighar from four clashes and notably reversed the nose defeat of this year’s Australian Cup with the deceptive photo finish win in the Group 2 $300,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last Saturday.
Since that narrow defeat in the Group 1 $1m Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10, Southern Speed had finished fifth on two occasions to Manighar in Sydney during the Autumn in the Group 1 $400,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 $2.25m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill.
Macdonald will wait until after the Group 1 $400,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 22 if Southern Speed goes to the Caulfield Cup or the Cox Plate or both and will let Williams decide he if he wants to chase a second Caulfield Cup on the mare or ride her at Moonee Valley.
Williams’ options lie with last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 20 and he has been offered the ride on two year old Triple Crown winner Pierro in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
“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 five year old’s win on Saturday.
“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.”
And Macdonald hasn’t completely ruled out a start in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6, but only if the situation warrants it.
“The Melbourne Cup has come into the discussion and if we were to run it would have to be this year,” Macdonald said.
“But she’s such a wonderful mare that I really don’t want to do anything that would knock her around.
“It is in the back of my mind though.”
Premiership trainer Peter Moody is also undecided with Manighar’s Spring program and could head towards the Caulfield Cup and the Cox Plate, but the leading trainer is content with the 57kg the imported grey was allocated in the Caulfield Cup.
And Moody hasn’t ruled out Manighar running in his third Melbourne Cup after finishing seventh to Americain in 2010 and fifth to Dunaden last year when trained by Luca Cumani.