By Kristen Manning
South Australian filly Southern Speed upset a charge of imports and locals to capture this year’s $2.5 million BMW Caulfield Cup (Aus-I). The Leon MacDonald & Andrew Gluyas-trained 4-year-old had been a standout in the mounting yard and always traveled like the winner in the running.
Settling beautifully along the rail just off the pace for Melbourne jockey Craig Williams, the bay daughter of Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Southern Image did everything right from the jump and from the turn looked the winner.
Hooking out three wide when straightening for the stretch run, Southern Speed displayed a good turn of foot in her first attempt beyond 2000m, having 1½ lengths to spare on the line.
Not unfancied at 9-1, Southern Speed boasted solid form in traditional Caulfield Cup lead-ups, running second in the Underwood Stakes (Aus-I) at weight-for-age conditions and fourth in the Turnbull Stakes (Aus-I).
Placed in the Australasian Oaks (Aus-I) in March, Southern Speed had been set for the Caulfield Cup, and where she goes from here is yet to be decided—she could back up for the W.S Cox Plate (Aus-I) Oct. 22 or be held back for the group I MacKinnon Stakes at Flemington a week later.
Bred and raced by well known South Australian breeders Harry Perks, Trevor Robertson, and Rod Fairclough—who have enjoyed major race success with such high class gallopers as Gold Guru, Devil Moon, Rebel Raider, Serious Speed, St Clemens Belle, and Undoubtedly—Southern Speed gave Perks one of his biggest thrills in racing.
“I’d really like to thank the horse,” he told the crowd during the trophy presentation. “She has done a great job in what is only her third preparation.”
A four-time winner from just 12 starts, Southern Speed is considered by co-trainer Leon MacDonald the best he has trained, which is no mean statement as his stable has a long history of producing topliners.
“I was always sure she had a lot more than average ability,” MacDonald said. “We trialed her a couple of times as a late 2-year-old and she showed us so much.”
Jockey Craig Williams was elated to tick off the third of Australia’s four majors, having already won a Cox Plate and a Golden Slipper (Aus-I). “It’s very special,” he enthused.
“She was really relaxed and quiet in the gates, and we got into a lovely position. She had a good, tough horse in Green Moon to chase down, and he gave a good fight for 150m but she ran away at the end and was really dominant,” Williams said.
Gallant in defeat having covered ground, the imported Montjeu entry Green Moon held on for second, with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Brisbane Cup (Aus-II) winner Tullamore finishing on gamely for third.
Zabeel, Australasia’s most prolific sire of stayers, made his influence felt in the finish as damsire of the winner and grandsire (through his Cox Plate-winning son Savabeel) of Tullamore.
The only stakes winner sired by Southern Image in Australia (he stood four seasons at historic Widden Stud), Southern Speed is the third foal produced by Golden Eagle, who changed hands at a broodmare sale last year for only $12,500.
She hails from one of Australia’s best known speed families, one renowned for producing Rory's Jester and Ha Ha, both winners of the world’s richest 2-year-old race, the Golden Slipper.
Rory’s Jester, a champion sire of juveniles, and Ha Ha were both known for their speed, suggesting that Southern Speed has inherited her stamina from her sire, whom she strongly resembles, and her damsire.