Queensland’s number one horse Buffering has drawn the inside barrier for Friday night’s Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley which stands as his best chance yet to claim an elusive Group 1 win.
The Robert Heathcote-trained gelding has signalled his readiness to step up and assume the mantle of the nation’s best sprinter with wins in the Group 2 Moir Stakes (1200m) and Schillaci Stakes (1000m) but a victory on the big stage this weekend would cement the position.
A seven-time Group 1 placegetter, Buffering will be out to avenge last year’s Manikato result where he finished fourth to Sepoy.
The most likely danger to stopping the son of Mossman saluting in the top grade is Sea Siren who has drawn barrier five for her first start since starring at the Queensland winter carnival.
The John O’Shea-trained mare won the BTC Cup (1200m) in the absence of an injured Buffering before defeating the Queensland star in the Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
She failed to complete the Queensland treble when ninth in the Stradbroke Handicap, a race in which Buffering finished second, and will have to defeat a horse Robert Heathcote told horseracing.com.au last week has come on well since the Schillaci Stakes.
Also stepping out for the first time this spring is lightly-raced Darley gelding Mental who will join Godolphin’s team in Dubai following the spring carnival.
The son of Lonhro won the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m) and also took out the Listed Darybreak Lover (1600m) in a three-start Queensland campaign during the winter.
Other key runners in the 10-horse Manikato field include Group 1 winner Temple Of Boom, Mark Kavanagh’s We’re Gonna Rock and Gilgai Stakes winner Hallowell Belle.