The prospect of an improving Rosehill track has boosted the hopes of trainer David Payne for the rematch between his top class galloper Centennial Park and sprinting sensation Rain Affair.
The pair are set to clash in the Group 2 $250,000 Hako Australia Apollo Stakes (1400m) tomorrow and with the forecast of fine conditions the Rosehill track, which is currently a slow 6, has a good chance to be upgraded.
With the improving track Centennial Park gets his chance to challenge the noted wet tracker Rain Affair who blew his rivals away to score his ninth win in the Group 2 $200,000 TAB Sportsbet Expressway Stakes at Rosehill on February 11 on a slow surface.
Jockey Nathan Berry is replacing Nash Rawiller on Centennial Park who chased hard in the Expressway when second but could only get to within four lengths of Rain Affair who put in an awesome front running display.
“Rain Affair loves the soft but we hate the soft,” Payne said.
“It was an excellent run first up, I was very pleased with it and he could only improve.”
Jockey Corey Brown has naturally stuck with Rain Affair who is stepping up to 1400m for the first time and this could also be an advantage for Centennial Park who has been successful over this distance on three occasions.
“Rain Affair is a very good horse and you can’t knock him, he’s done nothing wrong and he’s the one to beat,” Payne said.
Even though Rain Affair looks to have a stranglehold on the Apollo, improvement is expected from the Chris Waller trio of Rangirangdoo, Danleigh and Shoot Out.
Former Queenslander Shoot Out pleased Waller with an eye catching third behind Rain Affair in the Expressway and expects the five year old to keep improving as the distances get longer over the Autumn.
After Saturday, Payne will aim Centennial Park towards the Group 1 $350,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on March 10 and is hoping to go one better than last year when second to the multiple Group 1 winner Danleigh.