The last Group 1 of the current racing season is...
Australia’s representation in the Hong Kong Sprint 2014 field at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, the Rob Heathcote-trained Buffering is drawn in barrier eight for his international debut.
The Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) is one of four elite level features on the Hong Kong International Race Day program this weekend, and Heathcote is confident his four time Group 1 winning son of Mossman can be a competitive force from his midfield barrier.
“I was asked before the draw what I would like and I said four to seven, so I can compromise and take eight,” he said after the barriers were drawn.
To get the right draw is just the luck the Brisbane-based Heathcote needed to boost his confidence after the seven-year-old suffered a setback earlier in the week.
Buffering, last seen running fourth behind Terravista in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8, was found to have a foot abscess and on Tuesday was declared five out of five lame.
In an incredible turnaround however, the abscess burst and Buffering has steadily made a full recovery in time for the Hong Kong Sprint that he pays around $11 to win through Ladbrokes.com.au.
“On Tuesday morning I was about to get on the plane and go home,” Heathcote said.
“He couldn’t walk that morning and here we are Thursday morning and he worked lovely this morning.”
Looking back on Buffering’s recent performances, including his first-up win over the world’s equal highest-rated sprinter Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 A.J. Moir Stakes (1200m), Heathcote puts him right in the mix against the locals on Sunday.
“On ratings and form, if he was to reproduce any of his last three runs, he’s going to be right in the mix,” he said.
A nice ability to cruise up front and improve off an oftentimes slow jump from the gates has Heathcote predicting Buffering to be right up on the speed in the prestigious sprint showdown, some genuine fast pacers drawn on his inside helping him out.
“We know the way he runs, he’s not the fastest horse out of the gates but his first 50m, once he musters, he gets going at a very high cruising speed,” he said.
“There’s some speed inside of us but Buffering has the speed to cross. I expect to see us up there in the first couple whatever happens.”
Hong Kong Sprint favourite Aerovelocity ($5) is drawn one on the inside of Buffering with barrier seven, the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Pins gelding out to atone for a dead last when caught up in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) on November 23.
“I’m happy with that gate,” O’Sullivan said.
“He should be able to get a nice run from there. I’d rather have drawn seven than one – Buffering will go forward and he’s a good one to follow.”
The other best fancied in the Hong Kong Sprint odds are Singapore Sprint winner Lucky Nine ($6.50), Irish raider Gordon Lord Byron ($7.50) who won the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) down under in Sydney during the autumn, fellow European Sole Power (8) and Jockey Club Sprint winner last time out Peniaphobia ($9).
Gordon Lord Byron was a big winner with barrier two, trainer Tom Hogan saying he was “happy enough” with the draw.
Sole Power’s Eddie Lynam was also pleased with gate five, saying there were now no excuses for his galloper.
“Happy with that draw,” he said.
“I can’t use the draw as an excuse. I’ll have to think of another one now!”
Peniaphobia’s trainer Tony Cruz meanwhile described gate six as the “perfect position”.
Other key Hong Kong Sprint draws included barrier one to Japan’s Little Gerda and the outside alley 13 for the Hideaki Fujwara-trained Straight Girl.
See below for the full Hong Kong Sprint 2014 field and barriers, then head to Ladbrokes.com.au who will reopen updated markets on all the Hong Kong International Races shortly!
2014 Hong Kong Sprint Field & Barrier Draw
Sha Tin Race 5 (2:40pm local time) – 14/12/2014
|1||LUCKY NINE||B Prebble||4||C Fownes|
|2||SPALATO||M Nunes||11||J O’Hara|
|3||SOLE POWER||R Hughes||5||E M Lynam|
|4||STERLING CITY||J Moreira||3||J Moore|
|5||BUFFERING||D Browne||8||R Heathcote|
|6||GORDON LORD BYRON||W Lordan||2||T A Hogan|
|7||SNOW DRAGON||T Ono||10||N Takagi|
|8||PENIAPHOBIA||1D Whyte||6||A S Cruz|
|9||AEROVELOCITY||Z Purton||7||P O’Sullivan|
|10||SMART VOLATILITY||G Mosse||12||K W Lui|
|11||FLAGSHIP SHINE||N Rawiller||9||J Moore|
|12||GOLDEN HARVEST||R Moore||14||A T Millard|
|13||STRAIGHT GIRL||Y Iwata||13||H Fujiwara|
|14||LITTLE GERDA||M Demuro||1||I Sameshima|
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