Trainer Bruce Marsh
was showing his usual guarded optimism ahead of War Affair's shot at glory in
the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (1800m) this Sunday.
The 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year will be racing second-up after his
sensational dead-heat with Storm Troops in the Saas Fee Stakes (1400m) at his
comeback race from a seven-month spell three weeks ago.
After sifting through the different factors and variables around that new
assignment – his 26th start, the experienced Kiwi handler came up with more pros than
cons, but still remained cautious.
The main positive for the Trelawney Stud graduate was the
Weight-for-Age conditions of the race, he said. On 116 points (third
highest-rated Singapore horse after Spalato on 120 points), the 16-time winner
and winner of close to $3 million in stakes certainly looks well-in at the
"He's pulled up great after the Saas Fee. I'm very happy with him going into
the QEII Cup," said Marsh.
"I would say he has maintained his condition, though. It's a quality
field, but the fact he has only 58kgs on his back and is on level terms with
the rest is a huge advantage.
"The three-year-old (Jupiter Gold) for instance has to carry 56kgs, when
there is a difference of 25 points between him and War Affair."
But Marsh, who won the QEII Cup in 2010 with Race Ahead, was rueing the sharp
step-up from 1400m to 1800m - even if the $500,000 feature race was until this
year run over 2000m.
"Everything is good, but what I don't really like is seeing him go
second-up over 1800m. It's not the ideal distance for a second-up run,"
"I would have preferred another 1400m race to be honest. It will be
another two furlongs, and with his recent wind op, you have to be mindful.
"It's also a different type of race, with a lot of depth. The speed
conditions will not be the same over 1800m and with such a big field, the
speedmap will be different.
"Still, 1800m is better than 2000m, so I would say that drop in distance
suits us this year, but it could be a different story next year when we have a
stayer looking for 2000m!
"Anyway, it's not quite the ideal race for War Affair, but there was no
other option for him. I couldn't wait for another two weeks, and the QEII Cup
was the only race available.
"But it is a quality field he will be running against, and there is also
the quantity, which is no doubt due to the shorter 1800m which more horses can
run over than 2000m. We just hope he runs another good race for us."
The long-term target for the Ong family-owned champion is the Singapore Triple
Crown series which kicks off in October with the Panasonic Kranji Mile (1600m).