Another dominant win for the season in Saturday’s Warwick Stakes and local horseman Joe Pride could be tempted to try his stable ace Rain Affair over the mile for the 2013 George Main Stakes this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
Touted as the state’s fastest horse, on Saturday Pride’s classy Commands six-year-old Rain Affair will jump the odds-on favourite in the $175,000 Group 2 Pro-Ride Warwick Stakes (1400m).
They vie for their second win on the trot after easily accounting for their rivals when putting a big five and a half lengths on evergreen veteran Mic Mac in the Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) first-up at Randwick on August 10.
Pride agrees with the bookies, who have his gelding $1.85 odds-on to win the 2013 Warwick Stakes, and thinks their fitness edge over a field of resuming stars including Guy Walter’s dual Group 1 winning mare Streama ($6) and six Chris Waller-trained hopes such as Doomben Cup champ Beaten Up ($11) will see them salute for the punters.
He is however reluctant to spruik the Missile Stakes form too much and knows Rain Affair still has improvement to come.
“It is a little bit hard to line up the win but I don’t see it as any better than his Expressway Stakes win last year,” he said to Adelaide Now this week.
“I will reserve my judgment until he meets the better horses (on Saturday).”
The conditions are certainly right for him to step up though as he is versatile enough to perform on the firmer track despite his superior wet track form, and he also holds the 1100m record at Warwick Farm so there are no queries with the course.
And as for their wide barrier 13 of 14 draw, Pride believes their want to race out front will actually see the gate work in their favour.
“There is an inside pad of 5m that hasn’t been raced on for two meetings,” Pride explained.
“I’ve walked around it and it does have a nice cushion of grass. I’m happy he will get there and race on it which will be a bonus.”
Their weekend performance will then determine where to for Rain Affair next race with Pride keen to find out whether they are just a star sprinter or if they can be stretched up to a mile.
Over their 23 career start to date, which has amassed over $1.4 million in prize money, Rain Affair is yet to race over further than 1400m.
Should they show enough in the Warwick Stakes, Pride will be very tempted to give them a go over more ground in the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 7.
That then could lead to a shot at breaking their Group 1 maiden in the $350,000 George Main Stakes over the Randwick mile again a fortnight later.
“This preparation is his best chance to get out over ground,” Pride said.
“The majority of the field for the Chelmsford will come out of this race so the way he goes in the Warwick Stakes will tell me exactly what I need to know.”
While having a horse capable of a mile win would be nice, Pride won’t sweat on it too much with plenty of other spring options for Rain Affair should he be kept to the shorter features.
“I’m not too worried about it either way because there are numerous options,” he said.
“If I don’t want to press on to 1600m then I could go for the Theo Marks which is a really good Group 2 race over 1400m (on September 14).
“It is just a matter of getting through the Warwick Stakes and then plotting something out for him.”
Whatever distance they go over Pride’s main aim with Rain Affair this year is to get them a deserved Group 1 trophy.
“Someone compared him to Hot Danish the other day and it is a very good comparison,” Pride said.
“At the same point of her career, she has won 13 races before finally winning a Group 1 race.
“Rain Affair is the male version of her. They are both great horses with big followings and no one would begrudge him a Group 1 win.”
If not the George Main over the mile in Sydney, Rain Affair’s chance at Group 1 glory could come from a trip to Melbourne in a race like the $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 29 or even the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
“I haven’t ruled out a race like the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield and there is also the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley,” Pride said.
“He’s a versatile horse who can bounce around distances, it doesn’t bother him, he’s a tough bugger.”
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