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War Affair wins trial ahead of NZ G3 race second-up

One month after his comeback seventh in the Group 2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa in New Zealand on August 18, former Singapore champion galloper War Affair (O'Reilly x Kristique) came out for a smart barrier trial win at the same racecourse on Tuesday.

Ridden by his Foxbridge partner Danielle Johnson, the O’Reilly eight-year-old defeated stablemate Bevan Street (Samantha Collett) by a long neck in the hit-out over 1100m.

Johnson had War Affair off to a smart jump to take up the running before handing up the lead to Hatton Garden to settle in second position in the four-horse affair. The leading Kiwi jockey then angled him out for his run from the 500m for a four-way go to the line, where the old warrior sprinted up a touch better in the last 100m to poke his neck in front on the line.

Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh, who is the son of War Affair’s trainer at Kranji, Bruce Marsh, is gearing the 2014 Singapore Horse of the Year up for the Group 3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings on October 6. Johnson has again been booked for the ride.

Marsh Snr said that War Affair has benefitted greatly from his first run in almost a year. The winner of 16 races including 12 at Group level, and stakes earner of more than $3 million last raced at Kranji in the Group 3 Jumbo Jet Trophy (1400m) on September 10, 2017, finishing sixth to Countofmontecristo before he was sent to his place of birth, Trelawney Stud in New Zealand to fix his wind issues.

“His feet and his wind are good. He’s ready for his second race,” said Marsh.

In the Foxbridge, War Affair travelled three wide and copped a bit of a check midrace before plodding on for seventh just over five lengths off the winner Melody Belle, who was ridden by former two-time Singapore champion apprentice jockey Shafiq Rizuan (known as Rusof in New Zealand).

“War Affair won his trial at Te Rapa this morning. Stephen was very happy with that trial and said he couldn’t wait to see him back on the track as he was looking and feeling so well,” said Marsh.

“He said he sprang the gates good and finished off nicely. He’ll run in a Group 3 race over 1400m at Hastings on October 6.

“The track was too heavy for him at Te Rapa, but he still ran okay. If there is a track in New Zealand which has a better chance of staying firm, it’s Hastings.

“If all goes well, then we will be looking at a Group 2 race in November and a Group 1 race in December, both weight-for-age races over the mile.”

The races the Marshes and Ong family have pencilled in as potential follow-ups to the Red Badge Spring Sprint are the Group 2 Gartshore Tauranga Stakes (1600m) at Tauranga on November 17 and Group 1 Rydges Wellington Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on December 8. -STC