Rain to douse Apollo bid for Alma's Fury

Paul Murray is expecting Alma's Fury to be at the peak of his powers in autumn, but concedes the prospect of a rain-soaked Warwick Farm will ruin any chance he has in the Apollo Stakes (1400m) today.

Set to resume from a short eight-week freshen-up, the Kembla Grange-based Alma's Fury has again drawn poorly in the $250,000 Group 2 event, against a host of resuming carnival stars.

Alma's Fury's last start was a grinding win in the $200,000 Listed Bernborough Handicap at Doomben - his first win in 19 attempts in black type company.

That result, only a week after being nosed in the Villiers Stakes by All Legal, has fuelled Murray's confidence about Alma's Fury's 2013 prospects.

Quizzed on whether he expected the Refuse To Bend five-year-old to be at the peak of his powers this campaign, Murray said: "Yes. It took him a while to find it last prep, but he came good at the end. I think he was just too fat.

"I put those couple of hard gallops into him and he peaked at the right time really, which was right at the end of his campaign."

With wild weather predicted to hit Sydney today, betting markets will be turned upside down with any significant track downgrade.

Murray has carefully shielded Alma's Fury from rain-affected tracks thus far, restricting him to just two starts on slow or heavy going.

"He's no good on them and he just can't handle them, but he's got to race to get his fitness up because his next run will be the National Sprint at Canberra on the [March] 10th," Murray said. "He's got to go around to get him primed up for that.

"We've got a little bit of a program mapped out, but we'll just wait and see how he goes [today]. I'm not expecting too much with the weather the way it's going to be. If the weather stays away [in Canberra], the National Sprint will give us a good guide as to where we're heading."

Blake Shinn will reunite with Alma's Fury after a six-week sabbatical and has the tricky task of overcoming a barrier 12 draw.

Shinn, who got his eye in at Goulburn yesterday, took a break from riding after fainting in the stewards' room moments after lifting Cathay Lady to victory in the Belle Of The Turf at Gosford last month.

Murray tipped Shinn to adopt more aggressive tactics on Alma's Fury with a lack of speed in the race.

"I don't think there's much speed in it because there are a lot resuming," Shinn said.

"Blake's out there and I'll just leave it to him. He knows him and he knows all about the horses and he'll know what to do."

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