The Lindsay Park team were delighted that Criterion was allowed to make the flight to Hong Kong on Monday afternoon, but Robert Heathcote has revealed that he was just as happy that his star galloper Buffering would have a companion on his maiden overseas flight.
Criterion suffered a colic attack on Sunday night that placed his trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) in jeopardy and a government official initially refused to allow the Sebring entire to join Buffering on the plane.
The quarantine set-up in Hong Kong would have meant that Buffering spent the two weeks leading up to the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) by himself and Heathcote told Racing Ahead this morning that he was happy that Criterion was eventually passed fit to fly and thrilled that the pair had arrived in Hong Kong without any more problems.
“We were really hoping that Criterion would take his place on the plane because in the quarantine facility Buffering would have been on his own and basically would have had no contact with any horse until he stepped onto the enclosure before the big sprint,” Heathcote said.
“It was a last minute call and the last call I got was to say that Criterion would not be on the plane, but fortunately they were loaded on.
“It was tight.
“Melanie (Leitch) said that they travelled fantastic and they arrived nice and bright and alert.
“They have since hydrated themselves well and eaten well overnight, so I am very happy.
“He lost ten kilos, but they told me that was quiet normal.”
Buffering will be having the fourth race start of his spring preparation when he contests the Hong Kong International Sprint on December 13 and Heathcote said that he is happy with the condition of the Mossman gelding heading into the Group 1 event.
“I won’t do too much with him,” Heathcote said.
“I have him nice and fit after that jump out where he was a little bit lazy last Friday and he will do a little bit of evens on Saturday and then on Tuesday leading up to the Saturday he will have a gallop that will top him off.”
Buffering started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a narrow win in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 26 and he had no luck when seventh in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 24 before he finished a credible fourth in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8.
Buffering is currently available at 2014 Hong Kong Sprint odds of $9 and is on the fourth line of betting behind Aerovelocity ($5.50), Lucky Nine ($7) and Peniaphobia ($7.50).