Robert Heathcote’s four-time Group 1 winning Queenslander Buffering finished out of the money in his maiden overseas run but was still brave in defeat when sixth to the race favourite Aerovelocity in Sunday’s Hong Kong Sprint 2014.
After suffering an early week setback with a foot abscess seeing him miss some crucial lead-up work, Mossman seven-year-old Buffering lost few admirers at Sha Tin Racecourse when three and three-quarters of a length off Aerovelocity in the HK$18.5 million Group 1 The Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
Having his first run since crossing fourth to Terravista in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington from November 8, Buffering was ridden by his regular hoop Damien Browne who made the trip to Hong Kong for the ride.
Another hoop with a big Aussie connection meanwhile was aboard the winner with expat Australian jockey Zac Purton guiding New Zealand-bred local Aerovelocity, prepared by Kiwi Paul O’Sullivan, to an almost dead-heat win in the Hong Kong Sprint with Peniaphobia.
“It’s not often in Hong Kong you get to stick with a horse this long,” Purton said according to AAP.
“Paul O’Sullivan has been a long-time supporter of mine so it’s great to win for him.”
Last time out at the track on November 23 Tony Cruz’s young Dandy Man colt Peniaphobia scored an upset with a smart win in the Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).
The three-year-old nearly repeated that feat on Sunday then when only a nostril flare off the winner in the Group 1 back at the same track and distance.
Japanese filly Straight Girl then finished off the Hong Kong Sprint trifecta a length further away in third just ahead of Irish raider Gordon Lord Byron, winner of Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) down under in Sydney during the autumn, in fourth with a notable gap then to Golden Harvest (5th) and Buffering (6th).
Buffering was unable to get into his preferred spot up front and was just off Aerovelocity sitting on its outside for most of the race.
But when Aerovelocity kicked up on the run home to charge to the line, Buffering sat where he was with a host of his rivals getting past him to finish nearer the winner in a performance both Browne and Heathcote described as “flat”.
“I think he just raced a touch flat today, the tough campaign and his foot issues this week have probably caught up with him,” Heathcote told the Racing Network.
“After he went 50 metres I knew we were in trouble because he didn’t show his natural zip from the gates.
“He got across okay but he wasn’t at his best, it is not easy to come over here and take on the locals on their turf.
“The winner has gone extremely well, he is a serious sprinter.
“We haven’t got the desired result but he wasn’t disgraced.”
Browne believes Buffering had just come to the end of his campaign and would benefit from a spell.
“He just kept grinding, he couldn’t dash,” he said.
“I’d say he was below his best today. He has had a couple of tough runs in Melbourne and probably just had enough.”
Buffering is now set to return to Oz and prepare for a Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign at home in 2015 targeting races including the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) and Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) in May that he finished third in bethidn Famous Seamus and Spirit Of Boom respectively this year.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest on Buffering next race, and visit Ladbrokes.com.au for a bonus bet valued up to $500 to continue your summer punting with!
2014 Hong Kong Sprint Results
|3||13||STRAIGHT GIRL(T606)||Y Iwata||13||1||1.08.75|
|4||6||GORDON LORD BYRON(P606)||W Lordan||2||1-1/2||1.08.82|
|5||12||GOLDEN HARVEST(N236)||R Moore||14||3-1/4||1.09.08|
|7||10||SMART VOLATILITY(P049)||G Mosse||12||3-3/4||1.09.18|
|8||7||SNOW DRAGON(T605)||T Ono||10||4-1/2||1.09.31|
|9||3||SOLE POWER(N604)||R Hughes||5||4-3/4||1.09.33|
|10||4||STERLING CITY(N152)||J Moreira||3||5-1/2||1.09.44|
|11||1||LUCKY NINE(L259)||B Prebble||4||5-1/2||1.09.45|
|13||11||FLAGSHIP SHINE(P104)||N Rawiller||9||8-3/4||1.09.99|
|14||14||LITTLE GERDA(T607)||M Demuro||1||13-3/4||1.10.77|