Joseph Pride will put the Sydney Spring Carnival claims of two of his promising gallopers on the line at Randwick this Saturday, the Warwick Farm-based trainer accepting both Rain Affair and Neeson for the $125,000 Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m).
Of the two stablemates, Rain Affair is the most recognisable name, the Commands four-year-old gathering a growing following with each win they record.
So far they have saluted in six of their seven career starts, impressively including their last five consecutively.
Saturday’s Missile Stakes, however, will be their first stakes test.
Looking at the resounding margins Rain Affair has won by recently, the Missile Stakes looks a very achievable aim for a horse that could potentially develop into a Group 1 winner this season.
At their last start, they defeated a quality field including Skytrain by a minimum of five lengths at Warwick Farm, other winning margins for Rain Affair this year including back-to-back six length victories in April and May.
Drawn in barrier six, moving into five with the early scratching of Nicholls Court (br.2), Rain Affair will be ridden by Corey Brown in the Missile Stakes and is sure to be one of the race favourites at Luxbet.
Looking at the horse itself, punters may be wary, but Pride warns that form speaks louder than appearances when it comes to racing.
“He’s a pretty common looking animal,” Pride said.
“Because he’s a decent horse people will say he’s nice but he’s not.
“There’s nothing about him that you can like on looks.
“To me what’s on the inside is much more important…it’s their attitude but also just their cardiovascular system.
“It’s the most important ingredient.
“They can all run fast.
“It’s their ability to sustain that speed and that’s limited by factors like little hearts.”
Pride’s point could not be proven more when looking at the mighty Phar Lap and his infamously large heart as an example.
And while Rain Affair may not exactly be a Phar Lap in the making, he is getting closer and closer to recording a similar succession of straight wins as the 1930 Melbourne Cup winner.
“That’s what he’s got going for him,” Pride said.
“He’s got this massive big jowl and I’m tipping he’s got this massive big fuel tank down there an dhe can just run and keep running.”
Meanwhile, Neeson will start from the far outside barrier in the Missile as the Mossman five-year-old resumes.
Neeson was last seen on the track when finishing four lengths away 10th to Captain Sonador in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick in October last year, the triple black-type winner looking to get back in form for a spring assault.
“He’s super and I’m just happy to have him back,” Pride said of Neeson.
The 2011 Missile Stakes field has attracted plenty of top-line entries with other notable acceptors including the Peter Snowden-trained last-start Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes victor Pinwheel, Chris Waller’s Group 1 placegetter Triple Elegance and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Squamosa looking to bounce back after their defeat in the Takeover Target Stakes last month.
David Payne also has dual acceptors in the Missile with his Group 2 winner Centennial Park and consistent One Cool Cat five-year-old Winter King.
“Centennial Park has come back well,” Payne reported.
“He’s a very honest horse, he’s not quite up to Group One level so we’ll pick through some other races with him.
“It does look a nice race for Winter King on Saturday.”
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