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This Friday night under the lights at Moonee Valley Racecourse Rob Heathcote’s star Queensland sprinter Buffering will return to racing looking to kick things off with a win in the 2014 Moir Stakes.
The Mossman gelding spent many years with the label of perennial placegetter running in an incredible 17 Group 1 races for 10 minor placings before finally becoming a Group 1 winner last season.
He broke the hoodoo second-up last spring in the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
From there Buffering added two more elite levels to his record taking out Flemington’s Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Perth’s Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at the end of November.
That hallmark campaign though kicked off in the $450,000 Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) with a second to Samaready in a race he won back in 2012 when it only held Group 2 status.
Heathcote then plans to give his galloper the same assignments in 2014 starting this Friday evening where he’ll be looking to go one better than in last year’s Moir Stakes.
It will be a tough first-up assignment however with rival trainer Mick Price racing his star Redoute’s Choice gelding Lankan Rupee.
The world’s highest rated sprinter, winner of the Oakleigh Plate – Newmarket Handicap – TJ Smith Stakes triple in the autumn, resumed at the track on September 6.
Going out well into the red at Black Caviar-like odds Lankan Rupee suffered a shock defeat however in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) going down a nose after Angelic Light stormed home to beat the champ in the final stride.
Three-time Queensland Horse Of The Year, Buffering is in top condition ahead of his Melbourne raid according to Heathcote and is ready for the challenge.
The veteran seven-year-old hasn’t raced since three Group 1 thirds last campaign including a close effort behind Tony Gollan’s ‘Boom Brothers’ in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 24 at home in Brisbane.
Heathcote made the decision after that run not to press onto Queensland’s richest race, the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), and is happy he cut the horse’s winter campaign short to give him more time to ready for this spring assault.
“He couldn’t have won the Stradbroke with the weight he would have got so I decided to give him a good break with the spring in mind,” Heathcote told AAP this week.
“I think that decision is going to reap dividends.”
Heathcote had hoped to keep the ace condition of his galloper under wraps ahead of the Moir, but jockey Damian Browne couldn’t keep quiet after partnering with him in recent jump outs.
“I was hoping to sneak into Melbourne and ambush Lankan Rupee and co.,” Heathcote explained.
“Then I see Damian in the media saying how well Buffering is going.
“Usually you can’t get him to say two words. I think he is fired up after missing out on the jockey of the year award. Our ambush plans have been nobbled by our own camp.”
An international campaign could then be on the cards for Buffering at the end of the year with connections eyeing the International Sprint at Hong Kong in December.
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