Trainer Robert Heathcote is delighted with the 2014 Manikato Stakes barrier draw for Buffering and he believes that the talented sprinter will be able to hold the lead in the early stages of the Group 1 event at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Buffering will jump from barrier four in the Manikato Stakes and Heathcote told Racing Ahead that the Mossman gelding will have no trouble taking up his usual position at the front of the field, while the likes of Lankan Rupee and Bounding will need to do plenty of work to get over from their wide gates.
“I’m not only tickled pink with number four, but the main speed all seems to be drawn wide,” Heathcote said.
“That is the way that Buffering races and we will push out and he will go forward.
“There is probably a couple of the boys out wide that will want to push forward, but they would have to be going pretty quick and they will be doing a fair bit of work to cross Buffering.”
Buffering has not been seen at the races since he upset Lankan Rupee to take out the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 26, but he contested a jump out at Flemington on October 10 and finished third behind Specter without being asked for an extra effort by jockey Michael Rodd.
Heathcote said that not giving Buffering a run between the Moir Stakes and the Manikato Stakes proved a winning formula last year and he confirmed that he could not be happier with the condition of the seven-year-old heading into the Group 1 event.
“I am really happy with him,” Heathcote said.
“I pretty much kept to the same strategy as last year; I gave him a jump out instead of going to the Schillaci and he performed well in that.
“He worked at Flemington on the course proper this morning and I could not be happier with the horse.
“He is fit enough and his recovery was almost immediate, so I was very happy.”
Heathcote believes that the 2014 Manikato Stakes field is one of the strongest in the recent history of the race and he feels there are a number of winning chances in the Group 1 event, but is adamant that Buffering deserves to be shorter than his current Manikato Stakes odds of $6.
“You could name five or six and they would be genuine and worth winners of the Manikato,” Heathcote said.
“I have got to be honest, I was a little bit surprised that the market put Chautauqua and Terravista in front of Buffering and Lankan Rupee.
“As I have said in the past, Buffering doesn’t win by big margins, but he is always tough to get past.”
“The hardest to beat I think is Lankan Rupee.”
Buffering will join Spinning Hill (2002 and 2003) and Spark Of Life (2004 and 2005) as the only horses to win the Manikato Stakes in back-to-back years if he is successful on Friday night.