Despite a disappointing loss as the odds-on favourite in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) over the weekend, Rob Heathcote will continue with Doomben 10,000 2014 plans for his local hero Buffering.
The Mossman six-year-old was after their maiden Group 1 win at home, Buffering having won three elite levels last season.
Not having won since the third of those, the Winterbottom Stakes in Perth on November 23, Buffering went out as the dominant $1.75 punters’ pick in the BTC Cup after a TJ Smith Stakes third in Sydney the month before.
Conditions in Brisbane looked to be in the favourite’s favour too with Doomben a Good (3) and the BTC Cup field featuring just seven starters.
Buffering was at the front on the straight and looked like getting the job done until the back runners swooped and the race was won in a massive boilover by the Noel Mayfield-Smith-trained Famous Seamus ($41).
Tony Gollan’s flying Spirit Of Boom got up to run second while Buffering was pushed back to third in a below par effort Heathcote is still unable to explain.
“We will do all the blood tests and check for abnormalities and we may have him scoped, but there’s nothing I can see at the moment,” Heathcote told The Courier Mail on Sunday.
Buffering came through the run well however indicating to Heathcote they just had an “off-day”, one they can bounce back from as they continue their Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign.
“Ten minutes after the race he was bouncing around like he hadn’t even raced. I reckon he’s had an off-day,” he said.
“At the end of the day he’s been beaten one length in a Group 1.
“It took us all by surprise. He was doing somersaults all week and I was as confident as I could possibly be.
“Clearly there is something wrong. There was no ping, he didn’t travel at his high cruising speed and he was struggling to stay with them.
There’s now a fortnight before Buffering will look to win back the love of the punters that smashed his price pre-BTC Cup when they race again in the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
“I have two weeks to get him right,” Heathcote said.
“Some people are saying the hard racing is catching up with him. I don’t subscribe to that just yet.
“Maybe I have to go back to basics. We’ve been taking him to the beach, but maybe we just revert to doing what we did previously. I just have to try and think outside the square.”
It will be the Buff’s fourth consecutive Doomben 10,000 run.
Their first was a dead last behind Beaded in 2011 before an improved second when beaten a long neck by Sea Siren in 2012 and then their third to Epaulette (1st) and the then defending champ last winter.
Surprisingly Buffering has held his position at the top of the futures Doomben 10,000 betting markets even after their BTC Cup failure.
They’re followed in the markets by Gary Portelli’s last start All Aged Stakes fifth placed California Dane four-year-old Rebel Dane and then Spirit Of Boom with Doomben 10,000 first acceptances, and late second entries, closing this Wednesday.
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