Trainer Joe Pride is very confident his stable star Rain Affair will bounce back to his brilliant best at Rosehill tomorrow.
Rain Affair is returning to home territory after an unsuccessful trip to Melbourne when sixth to Hay List in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 10.
The Commands four year old took up his usual role in front with Corey Brown but was lost going down the Flemington straight and faded over the final stages to be beaten two and a half lengths.
“He ran a super race, I would have loved him to hold on for third but he was just collared and ran a close sixth,” Brown said.
“I think the ground was bit firm for him and he got lost down the straight which about fifty per cent of horses do who go down there for the first time.”
Rain Affair is coming up against a small but smart group of sprinters in the Group 2 $175,000 Challenge Stakes (1100m) but Pride expects him to lead easily and be very hard to run down back on home turf.
“I’d be very surprised if anything tries to lead him,” Pride said.
“Rain Affair is a really fast horse and sprinters like Winter King can’t keep up with him.”
“I could be wrong but I doubt Satin Shoes has the kind of speed to take him on, either. I don’t think they would want to take him on.”
“Back to Sydney, he loves Rosehill – he’s going to be pretty hard to beat.”
Rain Affair is unbeaten at Rosehill with three from three and has won over 1100m on four occasions, his latest win here two starts back in the Group 2 $250,000 Hako Australia Apollo Stakes (1400m) on February 25, winning by two and a quarter lengths.
Bookies also expect Rain Affair to regain his winning form and have installed him the $1.75 favourite ahead of Melbourne sprinter Bel Sprinter at $3.30.
Pride will saddle up two runners in the small field and stable mate Neeson ($8) will be wearing blinkers for the first time after failing to beat a runner home when favourite in the Group 3 $125,000 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) at Warwick Farm on March 10.
“It will be his first go with the blinkers on,” Pride said.
“He trialled in them the other day and he looked like a superstar.”
Jason Warren is looking forward to his promising Bel Sprinter clashing with Rain Affair in the Challenge Stakes.
Bel Sprinter is a winner of five from seven starts and Warren said that he had recovered from a slight leg injury which saw him scratched from the Newmarket Handicap and has prepared him for his Sydney debut by working him the reverse way at his Denistoun Park property.
“The small field is perfect, we’re going to be tracking up behind Rain Affair, probably about three lengths off him,” Warren said.
“We were able to work the reverse way on our farm and that’s the bonus of having that. He’s good on his Sydney leg.”
The Bel Esprit gelding hasn’t raced since an unlucky sixth to Woorim in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on February 25 and will benefit from tomorrow’s run leading up to the Group 1 $350,000 The Galaxy (1100m) at Randwick in three weeks.
“This is a stepping stone to the Galaxy, three weeks is ideal for him. He’ll come back on Sunday and come back in three weeks.”
Ben Melham will continue his association with Bel Sprinter, having won all five races on the four year old to date.