Despite the rain, Rob Heathcote remains confident Buffering can bring his A-game and take out Saturday’s 2014 BTC Cup but does concede Spirit Of Boom is the biggest threat in the field.
There are currently eight gallopers making up the field for this year’s $400,000 Group 1 Bunderberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m), the classic running as Doomben Race 7 at 3:40pm (AEST).
Buffering is raging favourite in the BTC Cup odds at bookies around the country as they shoot for their fourth Group 1 win.
Their price firmed dramatically after the non-acceptance of the John O’Shea-trained Sidestep who is now in the paddock due to a joint injury.
A six-year-old son of Mossman, Buffering has been one of the most consistent sprinters of this generation and Saturday will mark their 41st career start.
They’ve netted close to $4.4 million in prize money too after running in 17 Group 1 races before finally winning one of their own in Melbourne’s Manikato Stakes last spring.
After opening the flood gates Buffering went on to bag two more elite levels last prep winning the VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington and then travelling to Perth to win the Winterbottom Stakes.
This time in they’ve had two runs, most recently crossing two lengths away third to Horse of the Year favourite Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
That was run on a Heavy (9) giving Buffering five runs on mud tracks.
Two of those they’ve won, and they’ve finished top three in another two, giving them a nice record on Heavy rated ground.
While Heathcote still sees them as vulnerable in the wet, he does believe Buffering will be hard to hold out from gate three on Saturday if they’re racing their best.
They look like they might be ready to do that too after galloping well with Damian Browne aboard on the course proper at Doomben on Tuesday morning.
Buffering was fourth in the BTC Cup last year, and third back in 2011 behind the country’s two premier sprinters Black Caviar (1st) and Hay List (2nd) in a run that stamped them as a genuine champion in-the-making.
If Buffering does fail though Heathcote believes it will be at the hands of the Tony Gollan-trained Spirit Of Boom.
“I rate Spirit Of Boom a big danger, but realistically if Buffering turns up with his A game, he’s got the measure of the ‘Boom’ horse,” Heathcote told The Daily Telegraph.
Fellow Brisbane trainer Tony Gollan saddles-up both Spirit Of Boom and their older half-brother Temple Of Boom in this year’s BTC Cup field.
The pair ran one-two last time out in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm, won the year before by Buffering by three and a half lengths, with 2012 The Galaxy winner Temple Of Boom upsetting their better performed stable mate for their first win in two years.
Sequalo six-year-old Spirit Of Boom however is tipped to turn the tables in the BTC Cup when they face off again, looking for their second Group 1 success after their William Reid Stakes success two back in Melbourne.
Buffering meanwhile is also still a longshot chance of coming from behind to snare Horse of the Year honours if they can win the BTC Cup and also the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 24.
If successful in both he’ll hold the record for most Group 1s this season by any other horse down under surpassing the likes of Melbourne Cup champ Fiorente, the now retired It’s A Dundeel and the flying Lankan Rupee.
With those three top fancies for the title all out for the season, or in It’s A Dundeel’s case retired to stud, Buffering cannot be written off just yet.
“It’s there for Buffering to win,” Heathcote said of the Horse of the Year title.
“We tend to have short memories. Buffering took all before him in the spring, his run was courageous when third in the TJ Smith, and now it’s up to him to go ‘bang, bang’. Maybe it will be enough to get him over the line.
“While Lankan Rupee enjoys a spell, there’s the opportunity for Buffering to step up to the plate and assume the mantle as top sprinter.”
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