Queensland-based trainer Robert Heathcote has conceded the while a little ‘soft’ on his stable’s star Buffering prior to an unsuccessful first-up tilt at the 2014 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) on March 15th, all has gone to plan in the lead-up to this weekend’s Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) on day 1 of the inaugural The Championships at Royal Randwick.
Contesting a particularly fruitful 2013 spring preparation, Heathcote told TVN a slightly cautious approach had been taken with Buffering’s return to work to assure no unnecessary or unforeseen issues.
“Yes, I think I have to put my hand up as I might have been a little light on him going into the Challenge Stakes first-up” Heathcote said.
“He had a tough Spring and maybe I was a little easy on him, but he’ll bounce back, he’s ready now.
“Mind you, he’ll need to be at the top of his game because this is the Grand Final now for the sprinters; they’ll all be primed and ready to go.”
Confirmed to float Buffering down to Sydney on Wednesday evening, Heathcote revealed that while most of the work is complete, the Mossman gelding will complete one light piece of work upon his arrival on Friday.
“He’ll have a light trot and Canter on Friday and stretch his legs a little then” Heathcote added.
Unlucky to finish second in several races at the peak of Australian racing prior to his standout spring preparation, Buffering returned to the track for second in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) on September 27th before claiming all of the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) and Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) back-to-back to close his incredible season.
Likely to return to the spelling paddock following this weekend’s T.J. Smith, Heathcote has already confirmed defences of Buffering’s major titles come the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
Buffering is currently featured as outright second favourite for success in early betting markets for the 2014 T.J. Smith Stakes at $6 odds, behind in-form sprinter Lankan Rupee ($3.60).
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