It is shaping-up as a huge year for Benjamin...
Leading Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote will continue to hatch an international racing plan with his stable ace Buffering this year with the Hong Kong Sprint 2012 in December now firmly on the radar for the perennial Group 1 placegetter after the announcement arch rival Black Caviar would be rested for the remainder of the year.
Heathcote first named the HK$14,000,000 (AUS$1.7million) Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), run at Sha Tin Racecourse on December 9, as a genuine possibility for four-year-old Mossman gelding Buffering last week.
The prestigious sprint was also being considered for Australia’s turf darling Black Caviar who would have been racing for a lucrative $1 million Global Sprint Challenge bonus.
Undefeated in 22 career starts, Black Caviar won’t be seen again in 2012 however with Tuesday’s announcement she would be given a well-earned rest before connections made a final decision on whether to retire her.
While it hasn’t affected current spring plans with Buffering, the news of that Black Caviar won’t be going to Hong Kong has made the international trip a much more attractive one for Heathcote.
“With Black Caviar not going to be there, I think Hong Kong very much comes into the reckoning for him now,” Heathcote said on Tuesday.
After a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival assault it is likely to be a toss-up between a maiden overseas campaign for Buffering, a winner of nine of their 26 career starts to date, at the end of the year, and the $500,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot Racecourse over in WA during the Perth Summer Racing Carnival on November 24.
“Following Melbourne, Hong Kong and Perth are very much on the cards. We’ll be going to one of them,” Heathcote said last week.
“Perth avoids a lot of the issues of travel and is still a $500,000 race.
“The Hong Kong sprint while it comes with the complications of travel, it’s a $1 million race and has all the glamour and excitement of international racing.
“While it’s obviously not worth as much as the Hong Kong race, the attractive part about Perth is that the horse gets to stay in his own country and the owners don’t have to worry about changing money.”
Buffering has lined up against elite level company on 11 separate occasions but is yet to break their Group 1 duck.
They have however run top three in seven of those Group 1 attempts, including three defeats at the hands of Black Caviar.
Most recently seen crossing second to another Peter Moody-trained in Mid Summer Music in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 9, Buffering returns to Heathcote’s Eagle Farm stables next week.
“He’ll be coming back into the stable on Monday,” Heathcote said.
“I wanted to give him a good spell to get over the gruelling effects of the Stradbroke run.”
As they did last spring and this autumn, Buffering will not trial before resuming.
“He always goes well fresh,” Heathcote said.
Instead Heathcote has penciled in the $220,000 Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on October 13 as their first-up run.
From there they will stick to the spring sprints that are now anyone’s for the taking with the likes of Sepoy and Black Caviar out of the picture with the $750,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) under the lights at Moonee Valley on October 26, and the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day, November 10, both on the cards.
“Her (Black Caviar) not being around in Melbourne doesn’t change our thinking,” Heathcote said.
“Buffering will still start off in the Schillaci and then head to the Manikato and then the Patinack Farm Classic.
“If she was going to be there for the spring we would have run into her again.”
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