Trainer Joe Pride is heading off to Randwick tomorrow full of confidence that he has covered all his bases with his top class sprinter Rain Affair.
Rain Affair is stepping back up to Group 1 level in the $1m T J Smith (1200m) after winning the Group 2 $175,000 Parramatta Leagues Club Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on March 31 and Pride is full of positives for the four year old.
A small field of six runners will allow Rain Affair to cruise to the lead easily and take up his usual front running position and the absence of the world’s two best sprinters in Black Caviar and Hay List will make the job slightly easier.
And the prospect of a few showers hanging around Sydney has kept the smile on Pride’s face because of Rain Affair’s impeccable wet track record.
“He’ll lead that field on his ear but this way he can take his time doing it. I think he is ready to give us his peak run,” Pride said.
Rain Affair is the winner of eleven races from thirteen starts and one of his defeats was when Pride took him to Melbourne and he failed to handle the Flemington straight when sixth to Hay List in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 10.
His only other loss was a second at Canterbury in February last year when he was working his way up through the lower grades.
Pride will also saddle up Neeson in the T J Smith and is not totally dismissing his chances against the stable mate after an eye catching third to him in the Challenge Stakes.
“The other bloke is not far off and if Rain Affair can’t do it on Saturday, I hope it is him,” Pride said.
“Neeson had it set up for him to win but in saying that 1100m isn’t really his go, 1200m is more to his style.”
“His two most impressive victories, the Tramway and the Premier are both at Randwick so I think it is his favourite track.”
Corey Brown will again be on Rain Affair and Melbourne jockey Michael Rodd will get another go on Neeson after finishing third on him in the Challenge Stakes.
Pride already has a T J Smith trophy sitting in the cabinet after taking out the sprint with long shot Red Oog in 2006.
Things are different this year with Rain Affair and Foxwedge having a great battle for favouritism, both hovering around the $2 mark with Neeson the next best at $11.
Pride will push on through the Autumn and into the Winter with Rain Affair with the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on April 28 his next start after Saturday.
Then onto Brisbane for a tilt at the Group 1s at Doomben, the $400,000 Smirnoff BTC Cup (1200m) on May 12 and the $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 26.
“I think he is an Autumn and Winter horse and I’d be going as far into that period as I can and Neeson will be going north as well.”