Leading Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Nine and Group 1 winner Buffering will face off again after both were included in the field for the 2013 VRC Sprint Classic, the race formerly known as the Patinack Farm Classic, which will be held at Flemington on Saturday.
Lucky Nine made his Australian racing debut in the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 and looked as though he was going to record his sixth win Group 1 victory when he charged home late in the final stages of the race but was held off by a brave Buffering who led from the start to score his maiden win at the highest level of racing.
Lucky Nine’s trainer Caspar Fownes said leading up to the Manikato Stakes that his star galloper would be better for his run in the race and was expecting the six-year-old to be at peak fitness for the VRC Sprint Classic.
The son of Dubawi had his final hit-out before his major 2013 Spring Racing Carnival goal at the International Equine Centre at Werribee on Monday morning and Fownes said he has been delighted with the progress of the five-time Group 1 winner.
“He worked really nice,” Fownes told the South China Morning Post.
I’m happy, he’s right where I want him and fully fit now.
“The only minor hiccup we’ve had was a cut to his left hind leg, which he got in the Manikato and it was right on a joint, which makes it difficult to heal but he’s great and he couldn’t be better now.”
It took Buffering eighteen attempts at Group 1 level before he was able to record his first win but he will have an opportunity to add another big win to his racing resume when he takes on a similar field to the Manikato Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
Buffering will be having his third straight tilt at the VRC Sprint Classic, after finishing second behind Black Caviar in 2011 and a disappointing eighth in 2012, and is still chasing his first win down the famous Flemington straight despite being placed at the venue on four previous occasions.
Also backing up from the Manikato Stakes will be Jason Warren-trained Bel Sprinter, Queensland sprinter Temple Of Boom, Newmarket Handicap winner Shamexpress, Lightning Stakes runner-up Moment Of Change, Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane and Darley sprinter Sessions.
Darley is set to have three runners in the VRC Sprint Classic with two-time Group 1 winner Epaulette as well as classy three-year-old Sidestep, who is backing up from the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200,) also included in the final field.
Sidestep will not be the only three-year-old in the field; with the consistent Villa Verde set to make her open racing debut after finishing fourth in both the Blue Sapphire and the Coolmore Stud Stakes.