Joe Pride-trained sprinter Rain Affair will begin his Manikato Stakes-bound spring campaign this weekend when he contests the Group 3 2012 Concorde Stakes (1100m) at Warwick Farm.
The five-year-old was unable to break through in three attempts at Group 1 level in this spring but Pride believes he is now a better and more mature horse.
A winner of 11 of 15 starts and more than $1 million in prize money, the son of Commands will have three lead-up runs ahead of the Manikato grand final.
After this weekend’s initial test, Rain Affair will head to the Group 2 Shorts (1200m) on September 22 and the Premiere Stakes (1200m) on October 6 before travelling to Melbourne for the Manikato (October 26).
While Pride admits the five-time stakes winner is not at full fitness for Saturday, he is confident his ability will be enough to score a first-up win.
“I know his fitness isn’t as good first up as it is third up….but it’s a class of race that is below him,” Pride said.
Joining Pride’s star sprinter in the exciting sprint this weekend is Tiger Tees who runs in a front-running style similar to Rain Affair.
Pride said Tiger Tees is probably more advanced fitness wise than his more highly-rated stablemate and is expecting him to also feature in the placings come Saturday.
“I would expect to see him right there in the running maybe running second or third,” he said.
“He’s got more residual fitness [than Rain Affair] coming in after the Stradbroke.”
Tiger Tees scored his first stakes victory in the Hall Mark Stakes at Randwick in April before heading to Queensland to win the Group 3 BRC Sprint and finish eighth in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.
Among the main rivals for Pride’s sprinters will be experienced Group 1 winner Atomic Force.
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