War Affair's good but it's a race with depth
Trainer Marsh remains cautious on the chances of his 'warhorse' in QE II Cup
Trainer Bruce Marsh showed his usual guarded optimism ahead of WAR AFFAIR's shot at another Group 1 glory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup over 1,800m at Kranji on Sunday.
More so after having drawn the horrendous outer-most gate in the field of 15.
The 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year will be racing second-up after his sensational dead-heat with Storm Troops in the Group 3 Saas Fee Stakes over 1,400m in 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 O'Reilly six-year-old was the Weight-for-Age conditions of the race, said Marsh.
On 116 points, the 16-time winner and multiple Group 1 winner of close to $3 million in stakes certainly looks well-in on handicap.
"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 58kg 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 56kg, 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 1,400m to 1,800m - even if the $500,000 feature race was until this year run over 2,000m.
"Everything is good, but what I don't really like is seeing him go second-up over 1,800m. It's not the ideal distance for a second-up run," said Marsh.
"I would have preferred another 1,400m race to be honest. It will be another two furlongs (400m), 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 1,800m and, with such a big field, the speedmap will be different.
"Still, 1,800m is better than 2,000m, 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 2,000m.
"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 1,800m which more horses can run over than 2,000m. We just hope he runs another good race for us."
The other setback War Affair faces on Sunday is the barrier 15.
"The barrier's a major disappointment, but we can't do anything about it," said Marsh.
"Will hope for a magic ride from (Danny) Beasley. Hopefully, somewhere midfield or a bit better with cover."
The long-term target for the Ong family-owned champion is the Singapore Triple Crown series which kicks off in October with the Group 1 Panasonic Kranji Mile over 1,600m.