Trainer Robert Heathcote is expecting there to be plenty of early pressure in the 2014 T.J. Smith Stakes and does not believe that star sprinter Buffering will be able to lead unchallenged in the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick tomorrow.
Buffering led from the front to score tough victories in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) and Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) last year and is set to take up his customary position at the front of the field in the early stages of the T.J. Smith Stakes, but Heathcote told Racing Ahead this morning that it is unlikely the son of Mossman will receive a uninterrupted run in front.
“It would be nice to think so, but I doubt it,” Heathcote said when asked if Buffering will have his own way in front.
“It is an extraordinary field and I guess it is the old adage – build it and they will come.
“You put the prizemoney up and here they are, eighteen of the best sprinters in the country.
“We will be up there somewhere, whether or not we can lead unchallenged remains to be seen, but with Steps In Time and a couple of others drawn out wide they may have to do a bit of work to get over.
“If Buffering can get a clean getaway and get into his rolling rhythm, as we know that he can, he will be thereabouts.”
The Royal Randwick track is currently rated a heavy eight, and could be worse by the time the 2014 T.J. Smith Stakes is run, and Heathcote admits that is a concern for Buffering, who has an inconsistent record on rain-affected tracks.
Buffering won the 2012 Coca-Cola Classic (1200m) and the Group 2 2013 Victory Stakes (1200m) on rain affected tracks in Brisbane, but did not perform at his best on a genuine heavy surface in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Eagle Farm last year.
“The weather is a concern of cause,” Heathcote said.
“I think that Buffering can handle a wet track, but not a really heavy track.
“There has been some serious rain down here in the last few weeks and they tell me that it will be a genuinely heavy eight.
“At the moment the sun is shining, there are blue skies and a bit of a breeze, so hopefully the expected showers for later in the day don’t eventuate.
“The inside section of the track is a concern, but we saw last week in the Golden Slipper that isn’t always the case.
“We will see how the day pans out and see if we can work out our plan from there.
“I am confident that he will race well, but I need a few things to go our way.”
Buffering is currently on the second line of 2014 T.J. Smith Stakes betting markets at odds of $8, while Lankan Rupee remains favourite to take out his third straight win at Group 1 level.