After coming up empty in 15 tries at Group 1 level, you could forgive Robert Heathcote if he wasn’t optimistic about Buffering’s chances in Saturday’s $1.36 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
But the leading Queensland trainer remains confident the five-year-old can break his Group 1 duck on the biggest stage his home state has to offer.
“He’s had 15 cracks at it and hasn’t got one yet but I’ve got a good feeling about this one,” Heathcote told Radio Sports National.
“I couldn’t be any happier with him.”
A winner of more than $2.18 million in prizemoney, Heathcote points to a favourable barrier six draw and the make up of the field as reasons to maintain faith in his stable star this Saturday.
“He’s finally got a good barrier and certainly on paper with the speed it looks like things may work out okay for him,” he said.
“He’ll lead…we’re not going to try and fix anything that’s not broken, he’s a front-runner with a high cruising speed.”
It will be Buffering’s third attempt at the Stradbroke, having finished runner-up last year and fourth in 2011.
Rated an $8.50 chance, Buffering is one of two Heathcote-trained runners in the Stradbroke, joined in the field by Toorak Handicap winner Solzhenitsyn ($17).
While Heathcote insists Buffering is his best chance in the winter’s richest race, he is not writing off the horse he affectionately calls the “big Russian.”
“He may well be the dark horse,” Heathcote said.
“I’ve always said his biggest asset is not his speed but his strength and he has the ability to sustain a long run.
“Whatever happens tomorrow we’ll see big Solzy charging late.”