Buffering is the outright favourite in 2014 Challenge Stakes betting markets; with the leading sprinter now available at a quote of $2.90 to record his fourth straight win in the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick this weekend.
Black Caviar Lightning Stakes winner Snitzerland opened as a narrow Challenge Stakes favourite, but has drifted in betting after trainer Gerald Ryan revealed that he was worried about the prospect of running her on a rain affected track.
Robert Heathcote has no concerns about running Buffering on a wet track and told Racing Ahead this morning that he believes the Mossman gelding is in the prime of his career ahead of his return to racing on Saturday.
“I’ve always said that when he is six-year-olds we will see the best of him and I am quite confident that he is in the prime of his career now,” Heathcote said.
“He has had a bomb-proof preparation so far; he has a couple of trials under his belt and I’ve just been able to freshen him up a little bit.
“He is pretty forward.
“He arrived in Sydney this morning and was straight off the track and into his feed, so he is ready to go.”
Buffering has a stellar first-up record of six wins from eight starts and finished his spring campaign with three straight victories at Group 1 level, but Heathcote admits that his star galloper may be slightly vulnerable in the Challenge Stakes this weekend.
Heathcote has a high opinion of a number of sprinters in the Challenge Stakes field and believes that Snitzerland is the biggest threat to Buffering scoring his tenth victory at Group level.
“He has a great record first-up, and second-up for that matter, but if he is going to be vulnerable it will be this race over the 1000 metres, especially against a couple of real speedsters,” the leading Brisbane trainer said.
“Snitzerland was terrific in the Lightning and she is going to be a tough nut to crack, but as we have seen with Buffering, he is a game little bulldog.”
Buffering will have a brief freshen up after his Challenge Stakes run before returning to the races for a potential clash with the likes of Lankan Rupee, Zoustar, Not Listenin’tome and Samaready in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.