Trainer Robert Heathcote is confident that tough sprinter Buffering can be more than competitive when he contests the 2014 Hong Kong International Sprint at Sha Tin on December 14.
Buffering started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a fourth win at Group 1 level in the Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 26 and had no luck when seventh in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at the same venue on October 24 before he finished a credible fourth behind Terravista, Chautauqua and Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8.
Heathcote admits that Buffering is an inferior horse at this stage of his career to the three horses that beat him in the Darley Classic, but he believes that the fact Buffering finished within three lengths of the leading trio as well as his two previous victories over leading Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Nine indicate that the Mossman gelding is a genuine winning chance in the Hong Kong International Sprint.
“The fact that Buffering was still brave against what are now rated the world’s highest three sprinters in Chautauqua, Terravista and Lankan Rupee,” Heathcote said.
“Buffering is a couple of lengths off those horses and they are the three highest rated sprinters in the world and Lucky Nine was the highest rated sprinter in the world this time last year and Buffering met him a couple of times and beat him, although I do think Lucky Nine was off his game when he was down here.
“If Buffering can reproduce any of his last three runs I think that he is going to be very competitive.”
The Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m), which was held at Sha Tina on Sunday, is always the key lead-up event to the Hong Kong International Sprint and Heathcote said that he watched the race with great interest.
Peniaphobia stamped himself as a genuine Hong Kong International Sprint contender when he scored a tough win despite being trapped wide throughout the race, but there were plenty of horses that had their winning chances cruelled by interference and Heathcote said that he was still trying to work out everything that took place in the incident-packed race.
“I watched the replay about 25 times,” Heathcote said.
“The stewards report read like War And Peace there was so much interference in the race.
“Aerovelocity was unlucky and I thought that the run of the race was Lucky Nine and I didn’t fail to notice Peniaphobia sitting four deep and winning.
“I am still trying to work out how they ran 1.08.08 and yet the winner sat three or four deep and there were quite a lot of unlucky stories coming out of the race.
“Three lengths covered about 10 of the runners, so I found it a very interesting race.”
Buffering will leave for Hong Kong on December 1 before Heathcote joins him in Hong Kong two days later.