Triple Group 1 winner Buffering will return to the races in the 2014 Challenge Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday and should have no trouble taking up his customary position at the head of the field after drawing barrier three for the Group 2 event.
Buffering has not missed the placings in eight first-up starts and finished his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with three straight victories in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) and Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m), but is currently on the second line of 2014 Challenge Stakes betting markets behind talented mare Snitzerland.
Snitzerland scored his maiden win at Group 1 level in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 and punters are confident that the daughter of Snitzel can make it two wins in a row, despite drawing towards the outside of the Challenge Stakes field in barrier eight.
Queensland sprinter Temple Of Boom (barrier nine) has also drawn in the second half of the field, but according to trainer Tony Gollan will challenge Buffering for the lead in the early stages of the race, while connections of poor starter Bel Sprinter would not be unhappy with barrier ten for the Group 1 winner.
The Challenge Stakes will feature a number of horses that are returning to the races for the first time this campaign; with Famous Seamus, Sessions, Satin Shoes, Whittington and Villa Verde all set to resume in the Group 2 event.
Whittington (barrier four) is taking winning form into the Challenge Stakes after claiming victory in the Magic Millions Sprint (1100m) at the Gold Coast in January, while Satin Shoes (barrier two) will be returning to the races for the first time since June last year after failing to get into foal during the breeding season.
Sessions (barrier seven) and Villa Verde (barrier five) will both be reappearing after they failed to fire in the VRC Sprint Classic at the end of their spring campaigns and both are expected to press on to the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12 if they perform well in the Challenge Stakes on Saturday.
Tiger Tees (barrier one) is one of only three horses in the Challenge Stakes field that has previously raced this campaign and trainer Joseph Pride is hopeful that the Dubawi gelding can replicate his winning performance from the Listed Falvelon Quality (1200m) at Eagle Farm on February 22.