The T J Smith has pulled together a small field but it will provide an enthralling clash between the classy sprinters Rain Affair and Foxwedge.
The Joe Pride trained Rain Affair is stepping back up to Group 1 level in the $1m Darley T J Smith (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday after leading all the way to take out the Group 2 $175,000 Parramatta Leagues Club Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill two weeks ago.
The start before Rain Affair went to Melbourne after winning eight on the trot in Sydney only to finish sixth to Hay List in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 10 when he failed to handle the Flemington straight.
Whereas John O’Shea’s three year old Foxwedge is coming off his Group 1 victory over Hay List in the $400,000 Power Tracker William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 23.
Trainer John McNair had pencilled in the T J Smith for his super sprinter Hay List, only to have his Autumn plans cancelled when the six year old was struck down with a severe bout of colic.
Pride is confident that Rain Affair is a Group 1 horse and is certain he is going to prove it on Saturday after bouncing back to his best last start.
“It couldn’t have been any harder than Melbourne when he was on his side crabbing his way up the straight, plus he had the trip down there and back,” Pride said.
“He’s got amazing resilience.
“I thought he might have been vulnerable the other day, particularly when he got it served up to him, but he came through that okay.”
O’Shea is pleased with the progress of Foxwedge since returning from Melbourne and said he is ready to continue his Autumn in the T J Smith on Saturday.
“He’s at the best part of his preparation. He’s always been a horse that has trained right through and the further you got into a preparation the better he went and there’s no difference this time and we look forward to running him on Saturday,” O’Shea said.
“He’s probably made good improvement since he’s been in Melbourne and hopefully that transfers across to his performance on Saturday.”
Pride will also saddle up Neeson in the T J Smith, a horse he also has high regard for, but expects Rain Affair to be too smart for him.
“Rain Affair would have to run below his best for Neeson to beat him,” Pride said.
“Nothing went his way last start and he still had the tenacity to fight them off.”
“Neeson is a very good horse in his own right and over this distance. But all things being equal Rain Affair is the best for the stable.”
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 behind his stable mate.
Neeson is a winner of eight races but hasn’t been in the winner’s stall since taking out the Group 2 $200,000 Premier Stakes over this course and distance last October.