Premiership winning trainer Robert Heathcote is confident he has his stable star Buffering back on track for the Group 1 $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben next Saturday.
Today was the first time Buffering was able to do any serious work since being an early morning race day scratching because of a hoof injury last Saturday for the Group 1 $400,000 Bundaberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben.
The Mossman four year old was a very short priced pre race favourite for the BTC Cup and all expected him to post his first Group 1 victory after going very close over the Autumn Carnival in Melbourne with three placings at the top level.
Buffering finished third to Black Caviar in the $750,000 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 18, was a mighty second to Hay List in the $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 10 and then battled on for third after setting the pace, to Foxwedge in the $400,000 Power Tracker William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 23.
Heathcote was not sure early in the week if Buffering would be ready to tackle the Doomben 10,000 next week but with consent treatment and daily trips to the beach the gelding started to show signs of improvement late on Tuesday.
Ridden by heavy weight trackwork rider, Peter Spargo, Buffering worked with stable mate Woorim on the course proper at Doomben this morning and even though he reported that he was still a bit tender, Heathcote was positive with further improvement the four year old would be right to take his place in the 10,000 field.
“He’s 90 per cent right now and if not, he’s 94 per cent,” Heathcote said.
“He’s got his ears pricked, which is a classic sign that he’s okay and is happy.”
“He was still feeling his heels yesterday but is better with that extra 24 hours. He will go back to the beach again this afternoon and that’s very therauputic.”
“I am very comfortable with where he’s at and I’m not bothered that he will be three and a half weeks between runs going into the 10,000.”
Heathcote has scheduled a special gallop for Buffering and Woorim in between races at Doomben on Saturday and that test will be the deciding factor on whether he has made enough progress to proceed to next week.
Even if Buffering does or does not run at Doomben, he is still not a certain starter in the Group 1 $1m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 9 after receiving 57kg from the handicapper.
Heathcote was very disappointed with the handicapper’s assessment which placed him 1kg below topweight Albert The Fat and 1/2kg behind Dual Stradbroke Handicap winner Black Piranha.
“I was a little disappointed with the weight they gave him, 57 kilos for a horse that’s never won a Group 1,” Heathcote said.
“Okay he’s placed at Group 1 level but I don’t think he should pay a penalty on what he hasn’t done.”
“He’s a little bit of a spruik horse and he’s raced well against Black Caviar and Hay List. Black Piranha’s won two Stradbrokes and I get half a kilo from him.”
“If I didn’t run in the Stradbroke that just means it’s a couple of extra weeks he can have in the paddock.”
With Buffering now likely to take his place in the Doomben 10,000, he will stay the favourite at $4.20, just ahead of BTC Cup winner Sea Siren at $4.60.
The Peter Snowden trained Beaded is on the next line of betting at $9 and BTC Cup runner up Scenic Blast shares the $10 line with the Darren Weir trained Wealth Princess.