Sidelined Sunshine Coast based jockey Damian Browne is hopeful of being fit to ride Buffering when he tries to defend his title in the Group 1 $450,000 City Jeep Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on October 2.
Browne and Buffering combined to win their fourth Group 1 together when they took out the Moir Stakes last year, which was their second win in the race after claiming it in 2012 when it was rated at Group 2 status.
The Robert Heathcote trained sprinter and Browne had previously collected a hat trick of Group 1 wins over the 2013 Spring Carnival with victories in $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley, the $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington and in the $500,000 Crown Perth – Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth.
Browne has been out of action since the end of the Queensland Winter Carnival following knee surgery and originally thought he would miss the ride on Buffering in the Moir Stakes but Heathcote said the tough hoop was more optimistic the last time he spoke to him.
“Three weeks ago Damian rang me and said he was really worried that he wouldn’t be able to ride `Buff’ so we placed Luke Nolen on stand-by,” Heathcote told AAP.
“When I spoke to him last Sunday he was a lot more optimistic but will know more when he sees his surgeon in a couple of weeks.”
Buffering was forced to miss the Brisbane Winter Carnival because of a minor leg injury but showed Heathcote that he was on track for another Spring Carnival campaign with an impressive gallop in between races at Doomben last Saturday.
The distance of the Moir Stakes has been reduced from 1200m to 10o0m and Heathcote can see this as a minor problem in his quest to retain the trophy.
“They have put the Moir back to 1000m this year, which probably isn’t ideal for me because there will be a few whippets in there that might make it hard for Buffering to lead,” Heathcote said.
“But he’s over his issue and I still think he’s got a bit to offer.”
From forty-six starts, Buffering has earned over $4.8 million for his connections from sixteen wins, nine seconds and eight thirds.
Buffering’s stablemate and last Saturday’s galloping companion Hopfgarten will head to Melbourne with the multiple Group 1 winner and test his luck in the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 26.
Hopfgarten will then head towards the Group 1 $400,000 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 10.
The Mossman five year old had a taste of Group 1 racing during the Brisbane Winter Carnival and performed fairly for a fifth to the Gai Waterhouse trained Pornichet in the $650,000 The Bundaberg Rum Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben, beaten just less than four lengths.