Saturday’s 2013 Winterbottom Stakes in Perth is shaping up as a two-horse affair with trainer Rob Heathcote saying he had a lot of respect for horse most likely to defeat his champion Buffering, Barakey.
Jim Taylor’s Key Business gelding Barakey, defeated just once in their 13-career start to date and unbeaten in WA, won the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) last November for their 11th consecutive victory.
A knee injury has restricted the now six-year-old to just two starts since then however.
The first was their only loss so far when 11th to Shamexpress in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington, the race their season-ending injury occurred in.
They returned on October 26 back home at Ascot Racecourse and were back in the winners’ stall with a narrow victory over Power Princess, the same horse that ran second in last year’s Winterbottom Stakes, in the Group 3 Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m).
It will be a much tougher ask in this season’s Winterbottom however with Barakey to take on dual Group 1 hero Buffering.
Mossman six-year-old Buffering won the Manikato Stakes to break their Group 1 maiden two back and then made it two elite levels on the trot in the VRC Sprint Classic on November 9.
The Queensland-based galloper is now at $2.20 in the Winterbottom Stakes odds to make it three consecutive Group 1 trophies after so many years of close calls at the highest level.
Barakey meanwhile occupies the second line of Winterbottom Stakes betting at $4.40.
The local won the first battle leading up to the race however with Barakey to jump from gate two with Jason Brown in the saddle.
Buffering meanwhile has barrier eight, regular rider Damian Browne travelling with them for the ride.
Heathcote however believes barrier eight is ideal and will give his horse and their hoop room to move and evaluate how the race is panning out.
“Drawing barrier 8 will allow Damian Browne the opportunity to see what Jason Brown is doing with Barakey and he can sum up the situation from there,” he told Perth Racing.
While Buffering certainly looks the one to beat, Heathcote isn’t declaring the Winterbottom Stakes result a sure thing just yet.
“A lot of people are expecting a red hot speed and that the two will chop each other out, I don’t think that will happen,” he explained.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for Barakey and we’re excited about the challenge.”
The next best in betting are then fellow Queensland Spirit Of Boom who will be ridden by Caulfield Cup winning jockey Nicholas Hall from the inside alley, and the Peter Moody-trained Moment Of Change (barrier nine) coming off a VRC Sprint Classic third.
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