A clash with Black Caviar hasn’t deterred leading Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote attempting to win the Group 1 $1m Darley T J Smith (1200m) at Randwick in April first up with his Group 1 bridesmaid Buffering.
Buffering has been placed seven times at Group 1 level, three times behind the undefeated Black Caviar and is likely to clash with the world’s number one sprinter on her Australian farewell tour before she retires.
Heathcote, who was fined $5,000 yesterday by Racing Queensland Limited Stewards after his Sunshine Coast winner Slick Image returned a positive swab from his September 23 win, will devise a new race plan for Buffering leading up to the Autumn, bypassing Melbourne in favour of a Sydney campaign.
The premiership trainer had Buffering primed first up win in the Group 2 $300,000 Spotless Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 28 followed by a win in the Group 2 $220,000 Schweppes Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on October 13.
But by the time the Mossman gelding got to his main target, the Group 1 $500,000 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 26, the five year old had run his best races and was never in the hunt finishing sixth to Sea Siren.
Heathcote’s new plan will see Buffering go into the T J Smith in rock solid condition with several barrier trials under his belt and use his good first up record to his advantage.
“I’m going to do something slightly different,” Heathcote said.
“His last few preparations I’ve taken him south without a trial or a jumpout and gone fresh into a couple of Group races and won them.
“This year I’m going to change, I’m going to give him a conventional lead-up with several barrier trials, and take him first-up into the TJ Smith in Sydney.
“He’s got such a blistering first-up record, six starts five wins and a third in the Lightning so I’m going to use that first-up as an advantage and make sure I have him spot on for the TJ Smith first-up.”
Heathcote was confident that Buffering was primed to break his Group 1 duck in the Spring but after performing poorly at Moonee Valley, also failed at Flemington when eighth to Mental in the Group 1 $1m Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 10 and was sent for a spell after pulling up lame in the off hind leg.
Heathcote is also banking on Black Caviar, international Group 1 winning mare Ortensia and Winterbottom Stakes winner Barakey having a tough tussle in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 16 before heading to Sydney.
“I’ll meet Black Caviar and Ortensia and Barakey,” Heathcote said.
“They can fight out the Lightning and the William Reid down there and bash each other up and I’ll swoop down to Sydney and win his Group One.”
The T J Smith is already starting to shape up as one of the highlights of the Sydney Autumn Carnival with Newmarket Handicap winner Hay List also heading that way if he returns to racing in good order after being forced on the sidelines through injury.
And Manikato Stakes winner Sea Siren is also a likely starter after finishing a luckless ninth to Japanese galloper Lord Kanaloa in the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin last Sunday.