Robert Heathcote is self admittedly one of the few people happy not to have Black Caviar in Brisbane this weekend as the winter carnival gets underway, the premiership winning trainer keen for his galloper Buffering to shine in the 2012 BTC Cup without the world’s best mare there to rain on his parade.
Four-year-old Mossman gelding Buffering will start the short-priced favourite in the bookmaker.com.au markets for this Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m), an event they ran a brave third in last year.
The two horses that beat the Victory Stakes winner home that day were Australia’s top two sprinters with turf queen Black Caviar and champion Gosford galloper Hay List.
Last year’s BTC Cup was Buffering’s first encounter against the ‘Black Flash’ and he would go on to meet her twice more.
The next was in last year’s Patinack Farm Classic when Buffering ran second to defending champ Black Caviar, and the last was his first-up third behind Black Caviar and Hay List again this time in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February.
It has been a stunning autumn from there for Buffering who went on to finish a nose away second to Hay List in the Newmarket, and third to Foxwedge and Hay List in the William Reid Stakes.
With Hay List out with injury and Black Caviar toying with her rivals over in Adelaide the Brisbane winter riches really do look Buffering’s for the plundering.
“I’m probably one of the only blokes in Brisbane happy she (Black Caviar) isn’t here,” Heathcote said.
“We got to see the two best sprinters in the world here last year, and they showed that they are clearly much better than the rest.
“I’m the lamb, and I know I’m the lamb (with Buffering), and I’m quite happy the big, bad wolf is a long way away.”
Buffering further cemented his claims as the horse to beat in the BTC Cup this weekend with a commanding seven length victory at Eagle Farm last Saturday in the rescheduled, reconditioned and renamed Victory Stakes.
“I can’t say there weren’t a couple of sleepless nights when there was only six in the TJ Smith, which is a $1 million race, and he had beat all six of them,” Heathcote Said.
“But you look at the way Peter Moody has managed Black Caviar, and you have to admire what he has done in placing and looking after her.
“We might not have a Black Caviar but we want Buffering to race at the top level for another couple of seasons, so you can’t run in everything.
“I think his win the other day shows we did the right thing with him, and he is in top order for Saturday.
“He has won more than $1 million and has his hoof right on the Group 1 till, and without her (Black Caviar) or Hay List here he gets his chance.
“It is the only thing he has left to do (win a Group 1).
“I hear all these other trainers saying it is great to run against (Black Caviar) but I have been there, done that a couple of times – it gets old pretty quickly.
“You want to be winning rather than running for second.
“Don’t get me wrong, when he ran second to her in the Patinack Classic in the spring it was like winning for us, but sometimes you have to pick a fight you’re a chance of winning.
“I said after the spring he had to find a couple of lengths to win a Group 1; I think he has and he is a much better horse than this time last year.
“He has been the best of the rest behind them, and on Saturday he gets the chance prove he is the best of the rest.”
While Buffering dominates Brisbane there will also be plenty of eyes on Morphettville this Saturday with Peter Moody’s superstar Black Caviar having her Aussie swansong before heading overseas to be tested in the international arena.
The Royal Ascot-bound beauty shoots for her 21st consecutive career success in the $500,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) where she will face the likes of DC McKay Stakes winner Outlandish Lad, and the Mark Kavanagh-trained duo Catapulted and We’re Gonna Rock.
Meanwhile Buffering’s BTC Cup competition could include his Oakleigh Plate winning stablemate Woorim, dual Stradbroke Handicap champ Black Piranha and Tony Gollan’s The Galaxy victor Temple Of Boom.
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