Buffering will carry 61 kilograms and jump from barrier 11 in the 2016 Magic Millions QTIS Plate at the Gold Coast on Saturday, but trainer Robert Heathcote does not believe that will stop his star sprinter from winning the $1 million event.
Buffering showed that he was still capable of competing at the highest level of racing when he took out both the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on October 2 and the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 21 and he has a handicap rating gap of 15 points on his closest rival in the Magic Millions QTIS Plate field.
Heathcote believes that the wide barrier draw will actually suit Buffering in the Magic Millions QTIS Plate and he told Racing Ahead that something would have to go wrong for the six-time Group 1 winner to be upset this weekend.
“I never thought that I would have a horse in a $1 million race at a Black Caviar price, but I’ll take it,” Heathcote said.
“He is well.
“At the end of the day he really just has to go around and if nothing goes wrong he has them covered, he is so far ahead of them on the handicap rating.
“61 kilos is a very weight and he has drawn barrier 11 on what will be a shifty track, but he is clearly the class horse in the race and we are happy with him.
“It is probably better for Buffering drawing out there because it allows Damian to time his move when he goes forward.
“We know that he has a high cruising speed.”
While Buffering ticks plenty of boxes ahead of the Magic Millions QTIS Plate, he is yet to record a victory in a race start greater than 1200 metres and the $1 million event will be run over 1300 metres.
Heathcote admits that the step-up in distance could be a slight concern for Buffering, but he was quick to point out that Buffering had previously been placed at Group 1 level on three occasions in races greater than 1200 metres.
“He is coming off his win in the Winterbottom and I haven’t jumped him out and I haven’t trialed him,” Heathcote said.
“He has had a couple of exhibition gallops where he has done a couple of good pieces of work and that has kept him up to the mark fitness wise.
“If there is a chink in the armour it is the fact that he has never won 1200, but I can combat by saying that he has run second in two Stradbrokes carrying 58 kilos and that looks pretty good on the resume.”
Buffering is currently available at 2016 Magic Millions QTIS Plate odds of $1.25 with Ladbrokes and he is a dominant favourite from Steel Zip ($12), Gundy Spirit ($14), Anymore ($16) and Siegfried ($21).