Trainer Robert Heathcote doesn’t expect a speed battle to eventuate between Buffering and local hero Barakey in the Group 1 $500,000 Crown Perth – Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Last year’s Winterbottom Stakes victor Barakey has drawn ideally at two and will bounce straight to the fence for jockey Jason Brown and lead while Damian Browne on Buffering will also move forward from gate eight to cross the rest of the field.
“I will leave the riding instructions to Damian but I don’t imagine Buffering going head-to-head with Barakey in a speed battle,” Heathcote said.
“I’ve got healthy respect for Barakey on his home patch.”
Australia’s newly crowned number one sprinter Buffering broke through for his maiden Group 1 win in the $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 and then backed up with a win in the Group 1 $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The Mossman six year old is shaping up for a hat trick of Group 1 wins after it took him eighteen tries, including ten minor placings, to record his initial win at the top level in the Manikato Stakes.
Barakey is having his second run back from an enforced spell because of knee surgery and trainer Jim Taylor is certain the Perth speedster will strip a much fitter conveyance after beating Power Princess when he won the Group 3 $125,000 Sea Corp Starlight Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on October 26.
“He will strip fitter on his Prince Of Wales win but he will have to be against the likes of Buffering,” Taylor said.
“Buffering has been up against Black Caviar and Hay List and is the one to beat but Barakey will be giving him a run for his money.”
With a hot pace expected, run on horses Moment Of Change and Spirit Of Boom will get their chance to put in their claims late.
The Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change hasn’t been far off the pace with a fourth and third to Buffering in the Manikato Stakes and the VRC Spring Classic and is sure to sprint hard late.
While Spirit Of Boom, who finished third to Barakey last year, has good Melbourne Spring Carnival form to his credit with a win in the Group 2 $220,000 Perri Cutten Caulfield Sprint (1100m) at Caulfield on October 19 followed by a second to Fontelina down the Flemington straight in the Group 2 $300,000 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day.
Buffering is dominating the betting and is the $2.20 favourite for the Winterbottom Stakes ahead of Barakey at $4.40 while Moment Of Change and Spirit Of Boom share the next line of betting at $7.50.