Brisbane’s Robert Heathcote got to check the condition of his 2014 Hong Kong Sprint hopeful Buffering on Thursday and is happy with how the four-time Group 1 winner is travelling ahead of his international debut.
The Mossman seven-year-old is one of two Australian representatives in the Hong Kong International Races Sunday week, December 14, after travelling to Sha Tin along with Hong Kong Cup hopeful Criterion on Monday.
Last seen running fourth behind Terravista in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8, the gelding handled the trip well and is working well leading up to the HK$18.5 million LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
In that Buffering will be shooting for his fifth Group 1 victory, the $4.83 million earner having won the Maniakto Stakes – VRC Sprint Classic double in 2013 before a Winterbottom Stakes win in Perth that summer and then the AJ Moir Stakes first-up at Moonee Valley this September.
On Thursday Buffering was put through his paces for his first look at the Happy Valley course, the “easy canter” impressing his trainer.
“We got delayed because over here they put trackwork back an hour when they’ve raced the night before,” Heathcote told Racenet on Thursday.
“But when I got a look at him I was really happy with what I saw.
“I saw a bright and happy Buffering, which was our main goal – to get him over here and have him turn up on Sunday week in good order.
“He’s just coming off the water walker now and he just looks great.”
In the futures Hong Kong Sprint odds at Ladbrokes.com.au the Aussie pays $9 as one of five single figure hopefuls in the 14-horse field and markets.
If successful, Buffering will become the first Australian-trained Hong Kong Sprint winner since dual champion Falvelon (2000, 2001) who was ridden by Damien Oliver for both victories.
Other notable Australian-trained sprinters to attempt the win include Miss Andretti (10th in 2007) and baldy-faced cult galloper Apache Cat (7th in 2009).
Hong Kong Sprint betting this year is led by Pins six-year-old Aerovelocity ($5.50) who was luckless when caught up and finishing last in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at the track on November 23.
The other single figure hopefuls in the markets are then Hong Kong Champion Sprinter Lucky Nine ($7) who won the HK Sprint in 2011, Jockey Club Sprint winner Peniaphobia ($7) and European visitor Sole Power ($9).
While an overseas Group 1 would be the icing on the cake for Heathcote and connections, he said they could not be disappointed with Buffering wherever he ran in the classic and that another international trip wasn’t off the cards.
“We’re under no illusions but this bloke owes us nothing,” he said.
“He’s won four Group Is and plenty of prize money so what we want to do now is have a bit of fun with him.
“We’d love to take him overseas again after this. If you can get him happy in his zone, you know you’ve got a horse that’ll give everything on race day.”
To check out the full Hong Kong Sprint 2014 odds and get behind your early picks in it, and the other three Group 1 majors on the program at Sha Tin that weekend, visit Ladbrokes.com.au who make betting on the international races easier than ever before!