Warwick Farm trainer Joe Pride has Rain Affair as fit as he can get him as he attempts to win his second Group 2 $200,000 SCSI Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Rain Affair won the weight for age sprint two years ago from Centennial Park and Shoot Out and Pride will be offering no excuses if the six year old gets beaten first up.
Pride has given Rain Affair two barrier trials, a third at Hawkesbury and a win at Randwick, to get him fit for his first start since running sixth to Riva De Lago in the Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill last September.
“It’s a bit harder to get them fit when they get older and you have to put a bit more into them but I am happy with him,” Pride told the Sportsman.
“He can win first up but what he won last time compared to this was pretty weak.”
“He’s going to have to go better than that day, I’d like to get conditions like he had that day because those horses probably wouldn’t beat him.”
“If there is a good time to meet Boban then it probably is now.”
Rain Affair has a very good first up record with three wins and a second from six attempts and includes a first up win in the Spring when he beat Mic Mac and Title in Group 3 $125,000 McGrath Real Estate Agents Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on August 10 on a slow track.
Rain Affair excels on rain affected tracks but the prospects of a soft surface at Randwick on Saturday look bleak with no rain forecast for the next couple of days.
The Chris Waller trained Boban is also resuming after a break following an outstanding Spring Carnival campaign that saw the four year old undefeated from five starts.
Boban went from winning a 1300m BenchMark 90 at Rosehill in late August to become the top ‘miler’ in the country with sensational wins in the Group 1 $500,000 The Star Epsom (1600m) at Randwick in October and the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 12 and the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) two weeks later both at Randwick are the main Sydney Autumn Carnival targets for Rain Affair.
And Pride could plan a trip to Melbourne for the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 8 if there was the prospect of a rain affected track.
“His campaign is aimed at the TJ Smith Stakes and the All Aged,” Pride said.
“But I haven’t ruled out the Newmarket Handicap if they happen to get some rain in Melbourne.”
Ladbrokes.com.au market order for the Expressway Stakes has Boban the $2.60 favourite ahead of Rain Affair at $4.80 with Melbourne sprinter Speediness on the third line of betting at $6.50.
Guy Walter’s three time Group 1 winner Appearance is the only other runner under double figures at $9.50 in front of Pinwheel at $10, Howmuchdoyouloveme at $12 and Sizzling at $13.