The potential clash between Buffering and Zoustar in the Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in April has already gained momentum with both camps flying the flag for their headline sprinters.
Leading Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote says that Buffering has earned the title as the nation’s top sprinter after putting together three consecutive Group 1 wins while Jim Cassidy rates the Chris Waller trained Zoustar as the next super star sprinter.
“Zoustar looks an up-and-coming champion, he’s taken all before him against the three-year-olds, but he’s now got to step into the ring with the older horses,” Heathcote told The Daily Telegraph.
“That’s hard to do. The classic example is Buffering. Buffering is a six-year-old now and he’s clearly in the best form of his career. Admittedly when he was three and four, he had to take on the likes of Black Caviar, Hay List, Sepoy, horses like that.
“Buffering is the top dog now.”
But Cassidy, who rode his one hundredth Group 1 winner when Zoustar took out the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 2, says the three year old would start odds on in the T J Smith Stakes.
“He’s be odds-on and I’d have Buffering `6/4′,” Cassidy said.
“Buffering has put together three Group 1s now. But I rode Sea Siren, I think Buffering beat her home once, and Zoustar would give Sea Siren a cold.”
After living in the shadow of the undefeated Queen Of The Turf Black Caviar and tough Group 1 winner Hay List for a long time, Buffering has finally taken over the crown as the nation’s number one sprinter after winning Group 1 $500,000 Crown Perth – Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot last Saturday.
That win followed victories in the Group 1 $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley and the Group 1 $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Zoustar clearly showed that he was the out and out superior sprinting three year old during the Spring with two Group 1 wins – the Northern Meteor colt also took out the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill in September.
But Heathcote knows that Buffering has well and truly earned his stripes in the tougher arena of Group 1 weight for age racing after displaying his customary fight in holding on to score the narrowest of wins over the Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change in the Winterbottom Stakes.