Gutsy gelding Buffering showed his trademark bravery to hold off Moment Of Change and win the Group 1 2013 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) by the narrowest of margins at Ascot this afternoon.
Buffering was unable to cross last year’s winner Barakey and used a lot of petrol in the early stages of the race but was able to kick clear of the rest of the field coming around the final turn.
The Mossman gelding started to tire in the final stages of the race and Peter Moody-trained Moment Of Change loomed as the winner, and actually hit the front, but Buffering put his nose down at the right time to become the first horse in history to win the Manikato Stakes (1200m), VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) and Winterbottom Stakes in the same year.
Jockey Damien Browne admitted that not everything went to plan during the race and that Buffering was out on his feet in the final stages of the race but said the six-year-old dug deep once again to hold on for the win.
“He is a wee champion, he pushes hard when he is down and out, and they almost had me on the canvas at the fifty metre mark but he just dug in,” Browne said.
“He (Barakey) kicked up a couple of times and he did more work than I wanted to but he is able to do a bit and still find plenty.
“He is exactly the same every time and he is just a pleasure to do anything with.”
Melissa Leitch, the assistant trainer to Robert Heathcote, has spent the last six weeks looking after Buffering, as well as Solzhenitsyn and Fire Up Fifi, in Melbourne and was clearly delighted that the tough gelding was able to cap off what has been a stellar preparation with another win.
“He has three in a row now and he deserves it; the public love him and they think that he deserves it,” Leitch said.
“He has done a bit more work than what we wanted to do but he got there and that is the main thing.”
Trainer Robert Heathcote has always believed that Buffering was good enough to take over the crown of Australian Champion Sprinter, following the retirement of equine superstar Black Caviar, and was brimming in praise for the tenacious champ.
“He is an extraordinary animal, he is so resilient, and to win three Group 1’s in a row is kind of crazy stuff,” Heathcote said.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but what a super job Mel has done.
“She has been away from home for six weeks and the Group 1’s keep on coming.”
Heathcote has the opportunity to capture another Perth Group 1; with classy mare Fire Up Fifi one of the favourites for the Railway Stakes (1600m).
Connections of Spirit Of Boom, who was checked badly early in the race but still managed to finish fourth, considered lodging a protest but decided against it after viewing the tape of the race.