A standout performer for the Angaston-based trainer over his most recent racing preparation, trainer Tony McEvoy has confirmed talented three-year-old Affirmation will return to competition in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Sandown on January 26th.
Contesting just three races since first debuting for McEvoy in early 2014, Affirmation has not been seen on track competitively since charging home to beat a classy field to the line in the Grand Hotel Frankston Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield on July 26th.
Electing to skip the Spring Racing Carnival with the son of Not A Single Doubt, McEvoy told Racing Ahead Affirmation has taken particularly well to his extended period in the paddock and subsequent return to work, and is thrilled with the three-year-old’s condition ahead of the 2015 Manfred Stakes.
“This is what I’ve targeted for him first-up,” McEvoy said.
“He’s a really nice horse this fellow and looks to have come back beautifully.
“His two trials have been very good and he’s on track to run on Monday.”
Taking out a strong Morphettville barrier trial prior to his racing debut, Affirmation jumped from the gates only fairly in the $253,000 Inglis Classic (1200m) in January 2014, settling mid-pack and receiving a reasonable run in transit, but was unable to match the late pace of winner and subsequent Group 1 champion Peggy Jean, finishing fifth.
Returning to racing in exceptional form in winter, the gelding out of Apocrypha jumped well in a minor over 1100m first-up on July 5th; pulling clear of the field of 11 in the final straight to finish close to two lengths in the clear of closest rival Manhattan Prince, in what was his only other competitive start prior to the Grand Hotel Frankston Handicap.
Having completed a Hawkesbury barrier trial fox sixth in late December before a far-more convincing display for second in a Randwick hit-out last week, Affirmation will have to find an extra gear if to claim success in what figures as undoubtedly the biggest test of his career so far in Monday’s Manfred Stakes.