After finally breaking their Group 1 maiden with back-to-back elite level wins at the end of this year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Queensland galloper Buffering could be Royal Ascot-bound next year.
While admitting that the esteemed English racing carnival would be a tough assignment for his Mossman six-year-old, Brisbane horseman Rob Heathcote said he hadn’t ruled out Royal Ascot completely for Buffering.
It took 17 earlier attempts at elite level but the always-honest galloper stamped their authority on the post-Black Caviar sprint scene down under last month when finally securing their first Group 1 title with a narrow Manikato Stakes victory at Moonee Valley over Hong Kong hero Lucky Nine.
Despite the pre-race hype on Lucky Nine for last weekend’s Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington, Heathcote’s stable ace was able to get the job done again.
This time they had three quarters of a length to spare over Shamexpress, a visitor to this year’s Royal Ascot Carnival, in a win that boosted Buffering’s career earnings to $3.82 million in prize money.
Now Heathcote is eyeing the international riches on offer to his star including Hong Kong next December after a possible Royal Ascot appearance during our winter in 2014.
If they shoot for the easier option of Hong Kong Buffering would be aimed at the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin.
Heathcote and connections however have plenty of time to map out exactly where they will send their gallant galloper, and for now are focused on Buffering’s trip to Perth.
Over in WA they will vie for their third Group 1 trophy on November 23 racing against some smart types in the $500,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Australia’s Ascot Racecourse.
“It’s something we’ll do a lot of serious thinking about over Christmas (going to Royal Ascot) but we’ll just get Perth out of the way and then give him a good, long break,” Heathcote told Sky Racing’s Racing Retro on Sunday.
One thing Heathcote was sure of was that before any overseas plans are confirmed, Buffering will be back for a shot at the autumn riches in Sydney and then at home in Brisbane for the Winter Carnival.
“He’ll come back and specifically target the T.J. Smith in Sydney, I’d like to target that race first up and then a couple of races back home in Queensland in the BTC Cup and the Doomben 10,000,” he said.
“We’ll then give him another break which gives us the option to look at Ascot and or we could go to Hong Kong.”
The weight-for-age $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) runs at Randwick on April 12 before the $400,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) at Eagle Farm in May and the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) a fortnight later.
Buffering ran in both those Brisbane Group 1’s this year finishing fourth to Your Song in the Cup and third to Epaulette in the 10,000 before their brave second to Linton in Queensland’s richest race – the $1.3 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
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