Speedy sprinter Rain Affair will have his third straight crack at the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Rain Affair finished a narrow second behind Master Of Design in the 2012 T.J. Smith Stakes and finished fourth behind equine superstar Black Caviar, Epaulette and Bel Sprinter in the star-studded 2013 edition of the race.
The Commands gelding is still chasing his first victory at Group 1 level, after finishing second in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the All Aged Stakes (1400m) as well as the 2013 BTC Cup (1200m), and was unable to progress to the highest level of racing during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival.
Rain Affair started his spring campaign with a dominant five and a half lengths win over a small field in the Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) and was beaten as a short-priced favourite in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) before finishing a disappointing sixth in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m).
Trainer Joseph Pride is hopeful that Rain Affair can break his Group 1 drought in the autumn and told Racing Ahead that the six-year-olds entire preparation would lead up to a tilt at the richest sprinting event in the world.
While Rain Affair will be the headline act for Pride’s stable during the autumn, he is confident that he is taking a strong team into the carnival and believes he has a number of horses that are capable of competing at the top level.
“I am really excited and I think it is going to be a really good carnival for my stable,” Pride said on RSN.
“I have a couple of other younger exciting sprinter/milers with Terravista and That’s A Good Idea and I have an exciting three-year-old in Cushy Number.
“I am hoping that he will shape up to maybe be a Derby horse.
“There are some of the older horses there like Tiger Tees and Title as well as a nice four-year-old mare called Unimpeachable.
“I think that it is a good strong team to be heading into an autumn carnival with.”
Pride has previously won the 2006 Coolmore Classic (1500m) with Regal Cheer, the 2006 T.J. Smith Stakes with Reg Oog, the 2009 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and Doncaster Mile (1600m) with Vision And Power but is chasing his first victory at Group 1 level during the Sydney Autumn Carnival since Sacred Choice’s win in the 2011 Doncaster Mile.