Southern Speed gets revenge in Makybe Diva Stakes

8 September 2012

It was shades of the Dubai Australian Cup at Flemington today, when Southern Speed and Manighar fought out a thrilling finish to the $300,000 Group 2 Makybe Diva Stakes.

But unlike the Group 1 in March, which import Manighar won by a nose, the reigning BMW Caulfield Cup winner got her revenge in the 1600-metre event.

Star jockey Craig Williams, who rode Southern Speed in the Dubai Australian Cup also, said it was great to atone for that shattering defeat but was surprised to learn that Southern Speed’s No 11 had been displayed in the winner’s spot in the big screen.

“I never look, I look down and throw everything at my horses (in a close finish), but probably because history’s showed me that that really good grey horse (Manighar) always seems to beat me, I just thought that he might have got me again,” Williams said.

But Southern Speed had a short-half-head to spare on the line, which saw her become the first mare to win the Makybe Diva since Saleous in 1996.

After travelling much more forward than customary, Southern Speed hit the front midway down the long Flemington straight and just when she was set to be hailed the winner, around 100m from home, Manighar emerged as a threat.

The rejuvenated gelding looked to have Southern Speed’s measure at the 50m, but the combination of grit and a well-timed bob of the head saw the mare home.

Leon Macdonald, who trains Southern Speed in partnership with son-in-law Andrew Gluyas, was thrilled to see her score another feature Victorian success.

“Gee, she’s a good mare isn’t she?” he said. “I don’t think the race was run to suit her, being in front at the top of the running, but she won so it doesn’t matter.”

The Caulfield Cup, which has never been won twice by a female, remains the goal but Macdonald conceded he may have to change tack towards the $3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate if Southern Speed wins the $400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on 22 September.

“We probably won’t make a decision until after the Underwood, but she’s going very well,” the co-trainer said.

“I think you’ve got to make a decision between a Caulfield Cup and a Cox Plate. It’s pretty hard to go back for a Cox Plate after a Caulfield Cup, so we’ll see what happens.”

Southern Speed and Manighar finished two lengths clear of the next horse home, but there were no shortage of impressive runs outside the quinella.

Comeback gelding Moudre was outstanding at his first run for 18 months, storming into third at $51, while Mourayan ($81) was a further half-length back in fourth.

December Draw ($7.50, eighth) had a good run behind the leaders, but knocked up late, while Mawingo ($5) settled last and made a wide run rounding the home turn but lost ground late to finish two lengths behind second-last horse Efficient.