She's still only an untapped four-year-old mare chasing just a fourth career win on Wednesday, but Canberra trainer Luke Pepper believes Affinity Beyond is the best horse he's ever had.
For a man who's trained well over 200 winners over the past decade, including the supremely talented Viceroy who won three times in Sydney, it's a phenomenal rap.
She'll likely start favourite in Wednesday's Benchmark 70 Federal Handicap (1000m) at Thoroughbred Park, after which Pepper is keen to take her back to Sydney following her last-start sixth placing at Randwick in a Highway Handicap.
Since then she's won a trial at Canberra, and Pepper was expecting her to build on that with a strong performance on Wednesday.
"I've always had an opinion of her, she's been a bit of a handful her whole life, she's been a pain in my backside, but at the same time she's got raw ability and she's just starting to learn what it's all about," Pepper said.
"We went to Randwick and they just went too quick up front, she ran a 9.9 [second] sectional and no horse was going to finish off after that.
"It was a bit disappointing they went so fast in that race. We've been able to freshen her up and give her another trial at Canberra where she won comfortably.
"She flies the lids, she's a rocket out of the gates. She should naturally just find herself in front from the good gate.
"Hopefully we can just get an easy sectional halfway through. She can really reel off a really quick 600 so it'll make it hard for horses back in the field to pick her up."
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Pepper bought Affinity Beyond at the 2018 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale for $55,000.
She showed ability without winning as a two-year-old but won a maiden in emphatic style at Canberra in late 2019, finishing almost six lengths clear.
Dominant wins at Wagga followed either side of an injury layoff before she headed up the highway to Randwick.
"We bought her at the sales as a yearling, and she give us two years of grief," Pepper said.
"She was a bit wild to ride and she was terrible on race day and it's taken her a long time to figure out what it's all about.
"She had a long break after she won her first two, he had some changes going on in her knees and on vet's advice we put her out for another eight months.
"She came back first-up at Wagga and won well, she won a trial into that. It was a huge effort after such a long break."
Pepper said comparisons with Viceroy were justified.
"He was a lovely old horse and did everything right and gave us some great times, she's just blessed with a lot of ability but she's a little bit opposite to him," Pepper said.
"He was very willing to do everything for you whereas she's been a bit of a handful. She's only just starting to figure out what it's all about, settle down and do everything right.
"The times that she can run at home, she's super fast. We've just got to step up in grade now and I think we're going to see better further down the track from her."
Pepper has five runners in at Canberra on Wednesday, while he'll take Your Hand In Mine to Tumut on Saturday before heading to the Gold Coast Magic Millions sales.
JOHN SCORSE'S TIPS
No 3 Lamington Drive - Made up plenty of ground from a mile back when placed at wagga over this distance and stronger grade, small field suits
No 1 Antilles - Just missed last time after working early on, blinkers seem to have switched him on, will lead for a long way here
No 2 Cloud Nine - Even run last start from well back, extra distance should suit him
No 4 Ruler Of All - Next best
No 6 Boho Chick - Racing well this prep and no luck in last two runs, held up at a vital stage and finished off strongly, extra distance suits
No 5 Outahand - 3 runs this prep have all been very good for this, went back from wide gate and hit the line well at wagga, well placed
No 3 Jobkeeper - Solid form all this prep and strong win in maiden company last run, this harder
No 1 Nuremburg Castle - Next best
No 1 Port Douglas - Good effort when back and strong from wide gate, when first run for new stable, better draw gives him a big chance
No 10 Reelclass - First 2 runs were in provincial grade, resumed in very strong maiden and made up many lengths, hard to beat
No 9 Physcoa - Went very fast when resuming at sapphire coast and tired late, good recent trial win and inside gate keeps her under notice
No 3 Ambari - Caught wide last time, can improve
No 1 Major Time - Racing in peak form this prep, can win from on or off the speed and draw gives both options, looks very hard to beat with the claim
No 3 Pedway - Last 2 highway runs have been very good, will race back but he can finish if strongly with a strong speed anticipated
No 8 Affinity Beyond - Very fast mare who can use the inside draw here
No 5 Akeed - Will be prominent throughout
No 3 War Deck - Good strong win at Nowra over this distance, has the ideal draw and can repeat the dose here
No 1 Invincible Dash - Ran on well to be placed over 1400 at Corowa, extra distance should suit him
No 4 Loafing - Unsuited first up and was run off his feet, second up to the mile he will be strong late
No 2 Nicholas - Didn't run the 2000 last time and back to the mile suits
No 5 Propose To Me - Very nice mare, overcame a wide run and muddling speed with a big turn of foot to score a most impressive win 1st up, hard to beat here
No 2 Zelago - Resuming here and heading towards the country championship, races well at home and handles all conditions
No 7 Eurosay - Very consistent this prep and drawn to get a good run here
No 4 Hezredhot - Next best
No 3 River Mac - Easy to make a case for him as he could have won his last two starts, flew home last run and with even luck he will win this
No 11 Hayyu - Improving filly who fought on well after a hard run and just behind the placegetters, better drawn this time
No 8 Favourite Things - Not beaten last time this t/d has some claims
No 5 Mizno - Watch market
Race #: Horse #: Name: Rationale:
Best Bet: 6 5 Propose To Me Big win first up where she looked to have plenty up her sleeve, rising in class but she is very promising
Best Roughie: 7 11 Hayyu Whilst the fav will be hard to hold out, she can get the nice run and could surprise