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Warwick Farm horseman Joe Pride is confident his champion sprinter Rain Affair has what it takes to return to form when they face a possible rematch with Newmarket Handicap winner Hay List in the Challenge Stakes 2012 at Rosehill Guineas Dayon Saturday.
Commands four-year-old Rain Affair had finished first in all but one, when second first-up at Canterbury last February, of their starts until race number 12 in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 10.
Making their Melbourne race debut Rain Affair, fresh off back-to-back Group 2 wins at Rosehill in the Expressway Stakes and Apollo Stakes by 4 and 2 ½ lengths respectively, failed in their first Group 1 assignment finishing two and a half off Hay List in sixth.
Both Hay List and Rain Affair have now been nominated for the $175,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
If accepted John McNair’s triple elite level champ Hay List will be shooting for successive Challenge Stakes wins, the six-year-old fresh off a shock loss to three-year-old Foxwedge in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley last Friday night.
While Hay List easily got the better of Rain Affair last time they met, Pride is confident that having had a short rest his horse will be back to their best on Saturday.
“The horse is great, really happy with him,” Pride said on Tuesday.
“He’s come through the Melbourne experience well.
“There’s been no change in his attitude which is good.
“I don’t like to see too much change in horses.
“He is still quite bullish around the place and a little bit stroppy and hard to handle, that’s him.
“You wouldn’t want to see him any other way.
“I’m kind of a looking forward to a rematch with Hay List if we can get it.”
The other major players in the Challenge Stakes entries this year are Pride’s other runner Neeson, the Jason Warren-trained sprint star Bel Sprinter looking to bounce back after their close sixth in the Oakleigh Plate and Clarry Conners‘ nice Flying Spur filly Satin Shoes.
Satin Shoes has also been nominated for the $125,000 Group 3 Birthday Card Stakes (1200m) for fillies and mares, and the three-year-olds’ $100,000 Listed Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
“I will have to sit down and study the nominations and the weights and think about where she goes,” Conners said.
“None of them are easy races and the Challenge is harder now that Hay List is in.
“I had eliminated him from the equation.”
Satin Shoes is heading towards a start in the $350,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Royal Randwick on April 21.
“The Galaxy is her main aim and hopefully she can win another race on the way,” Conners said.
The 2012 Challenge Stakes acceptances and other Rosehill race fields will be released on Wednesday and published right here at Races.com.au along with our exclusive race previews.
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