Smart sprinter Rain Affair will benefit greatly from a Randwick barrier trial win and is on track to chase Group 1 glory during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Warwick Farm trainer Joe Pride is reluctant to return to Flemington where Rain Affair failed to handle the straight course and has selected the Group 1 $500,000 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 26 as the five year old’s main Spring mission.
The narrow trial win today by Rain Affair was enough to convince Pride that the gelding is on track for another attempt to claim a Group 1 victory after being runner up twice at the elite level at Randwick during the Autumn.
The Commands gelding showed his usual speed before being run down by Master Of Design in a blanket finish when second in the $1m Darley T J Smith (1200m) on April 14 then was over-run by the undefeated Atlantic Jewel when second in the $400,000 Ticketek All Aged Stakes (1400m) on April 28.
Rain Affair was able to hold off the Gai Waterhouse trained Squamosa to score a narrow trial win and the Warwick Farm trainer was pleased with the effort, knowing that his stable star was nowhere near race fitness.
“He’s nowhere near peak fitness so it doesn’t surprise me that Squamosa came back at him,” Pride said.
“He’s still done a great job and will improve a lot off that. He’s a horse that runs so hard that if he’s not fully fit it will tell at the end.”
Pride will plan another barrier trial before kicking off Rain Affair’s Spring in the Group 3 $125,000 Concorde Stakes (1100m) Warwick Farm on September 8 which will be followed by two more Sydney runs before heading to Melbourne.
“He’ll have another trial before resuming in the Concorde Stakes on September 8,” Pride said.
“We’re looking at giving him three runs before a shot at the Manikato Stakes (1200m) on Cox Plate eve.”
Pride has pencilled in the Group 2 $200,000 The Shorts (1200m) at Randwick on September 22 and the Group 2 $200,000 Premier Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on October 6 as his lead-up to the Manikato at Moonee Valley.
In a revamped Cox Plate Carnival this year, the Manikato Stakes has been moved from its September date to be run on the Friday night preceeding the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27.
“I think the surface at Moonee Valley will suit him much better,” Pride said.
“He is also much better coming off a bend which is another reason not to go to Flemington.”
“Spring is a hard time for sprinters. There are more races for them in the autumn.”
“Maybe if we could get some soft tracks for him it would be different but I think next autumn and winter will be his time.”