Trainer Joseph Pride is happy that Rain Affair has drawn towards the outside of the field for the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) that will be run at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Rain Affair will jump from barrier nine in the Expressway Stakes this weekend and Pride told Racing Ahead this morning that he prefers it when the speedy galloper has the opportunity to cut across the rest of the field from a wide gate.
“Corey Brown has probably ridden this horse more than anyone else and he always preferred him when he drew out,” Pride said.
“He is not the fastest out of the gates, as quick as he is, and an outside barrier he gets to roll across at his pleasure.”
Rain Affair has not been seen at the races since he failed to fire in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, but has performed well in two barrier trials; finishing third in a trial over 760 metres at Hawkesbury on January 20 before winning a trial over 844 metres at Royal Randwick on January 31.
The Commands gelding has recorded three wins from six first-up starts and won the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at the start of his spring campaign, but Pride is expecting the six-year-old to improve as he works his way through his autumn preparation.
“I was pretty happy with that and I thought it was nice; he seemed to be well on track,” Pride said.
“He is never that wound up for first-up.
“Some horses run better fresh than others and he has never been a horse that is at his best first-up.
“He takes good improvement out of those runs and he just keeps improving as we get him through the preparation.”
Rain Affair has been unable to break through for a victory at Group 1 level, despite being placed on four occasions, and he will have another opportunity to record a maiden win at the highest level of racing during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival; with the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12 and the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at the same venue a fortnight late both on the agenda as well as a potential trip to Melbourne for the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
“He will go a similar path to what he has in the past and I think he will end up in the All Aged and the T.J. again,” Pride said.
“I’ve put him in the Newmarket.
“That is the only race that we would come down (to Melbourne) for and we will come down if it is wet.”
Rain Affair will face a strong field in the 2014 Expressway Stakes; with 2013 Spring Racing Carnival star Boban, imported galloper Carlton House, talented miler Speediness and triple Group 1 winner Appearance all included in the final field for the Group 2 event.