Joe Pride faces the prospect of his noted wet tracker Rain Affair having to resume on a firm track when he kicks off his Autumn Carnival campaign in the Group 2 $200,000 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Warwick Farm trainer would happily accept a few drops of rain leading up to the weekend but is grateful this year’s weight for age sprint is being run at Randwick and not Rosehill.
Rain Affair won the 2012 running of the Expressway Stakes which was run at Rosehill on a slow track but following a dry summer, the Randwick track has slightly more cushion in it than the hard Rosehill surface at the moment.
“I need to kick him off somewhere and I’m relieved the race is not at Rosehill which is pretty firm at the moment,” Pride told AAP.
“Randwick always seems to have a bit of give in it. They are predicting some showers this week so hopefully that happens.
“The horse is ready and needs to get back to racing.”
The front running Rain Affair has an outstanding record on rain affected tracks with five wins from five starts on a slow and two wins and a second on a heavy track and Pride will be happy if the forecast showers arrive.
Rain Affair will be having his first start since running sixth to Riva De Lago on a good tack in the Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on September 14 last year but Pride needs to run the six year old on the weekend to have him ready for his Group 1 assignments later in the Autumn.
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.”
Pride is looking forward to seeing Rain Affair win his Maiden Group 1 after the six year old has been runner up at the top level on four occasions.
The Commands gelding was beaten a nose by Master Of Design in the 2012 T J Smith Stakes and then found himself in the runner’s up stall again at his very start in the in the All Aged Stakes.
Then last Autumn he ran second to All Too Hard in the All Aged Stakes again before suffering his first defeat on a heavy track when second to Your Song in the 2013 Group 1 $400,000 Bundaberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m) at Eagle Farm on May 11.
Leading trainer Chris Waller has nominated his Spring find Boban for the Expressway Stakes as well as Arinosa, Moriarty and new stable acquisition Sizzling.
Other notable entries include the Gai Waterhouse trained Carlton House, Guy Walter’s multiple Group 1 winning mare Appearance and Caulfield trainer Colin Scott’s sprinter-miler Speediness.
With only thirteen original entries for the Expressway Stakes, the Australian Turf Club has extended nominations until 11AM on Tuesday.