Promising Sydney sprinter Rain Affair is heading to a Newmarket Handicap start if he lives up to expectations at Rosehill on Saturday.
A winner of eight of his nine starts, Rain Affair is taking on Group 2 company for the first time when he steps out in the $200,000 Expressway Stakes (1200m) and is facing his toughest test to date.
If Rain Affair lives up to trainer Joe Pride’s high opinion and races as expected on Saturday he will seriously consider a trip to Melbourne for the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 10.
A run in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) is also on the cards for Rain Affair to top him off for his trip to Melbourne.
“I might run him in the Apollo and if he was able to run really well in his next two races I’d definitely consider a trip to Melbourne,” Pride told Sky Sports Radio.
“He’s not the sort of horse who really wants a month between Saturday’s race, the Expressway, and the Newmarket (1200m). I’d be tempted to get him down there if he could do well at his first two starts.
“He’s a strong horse and he runs a very good 1200m.”
Pride was more than happy with Rain Affair’s workout this morning and with a barrier trial under belt, he is going into Saturday’s race in good condition.
The Commands four year old resumed from a long break to lead all of the way first up in the Listed $100,000 Carrington Stakes (1100m) at Warwick Farm on January 2 but with five weeks in between runs leading up to the Expressway, Pride decided to give him a good hit out in Warwick Farm barrier trial.
“The horse showed pretty amazing speed at times, the time that he actually ran, you look at it compared to the other good horses on the day, it was really quite exciting,” Pride said after Rain Affair ran smart time in winning the 800m trial.
“Like a lot of good horses I’ve had, he’s not that flash in his trackwork.
“He’s a horse who seems to know when it’s serious – barrier trials and races, he saves his best for them. [He did some] nice work this morning and just a good continuation on from what he’s been doing,” Pride added.
Pride is confident that Rain Affair will be fit enough and good enough to take on the likes of proven Group 1 performers in Rangirangdoo, Danleigh and Shoot Out as well as Centennial Park, Eagle Falls and Snipper’s Bullet.
He also is glad that his gelding is not going into Saturday’s race first-up and will have a fitness advantage over most of his rivals with the majority of the field resuming.
“It’s a decent assignment against some pretty seasoned campaigners and I like the fact that he’s got a little bit of a head start on his opposition,” Pride said.