Brisbane’s leading trainer Robert Heathcote believes his old veteran sprinter and crowd favourite Buffering is drawn to win out wider in the Darley Classic 2015 this weekend at Flemington Racecourse.
The now eight-year-old son of Mossman won the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) on Emirates Stakes Day two years ago from the inside alley in a 13-starter field.
He returned 12 months later and facing 12 rivals in the weight-for-age classic again ran fourth to the Joe Pride-trained Terravista, also in the mix on Saturday looking to become the first back-to-back Darley Classic winner since Black Caviar (2010-11).
A gun over the distance with 11 wins and 11 more minor placings over 1200m from his 32 previous runs during his smashing 48-start career that has seen Buffering rack up over $5 million in prize money, the gallant gelding’s latest elite level success was two back in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley.
Last time out he jumped from barrier 7 of 10 when fifth to the Team Hawkes-trained Chautauqua in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), which featured a very similar field to the one that lines-up in Flemington Race 6 at 3:40pm (AEST) on Saturday afternoon.
Manikato Stakes winner Chautauqua, runner-up in last year’s Darley Classic, is three-from-three this campaign and is at an easing odds-on price of $1.65 through Ladbrokes.com.au to extend his winning streak to four on the trot.
The favourite has barrier four on the weekend, while Buffering is out in seven again, which is actually “the place to be” according to Heathcote.
Buffering is famous for his on-pace style of racing up the front, but coming down the outside of the Flemington track suited two Crown Oaks Day sprint winners on Thursday with The Quarterback and Pittsburgh Flyer, giving Heathcote confidence in his horse’s draw a couple of days later.
“Probably [the barrier suits] now,” Heathcote told Racing Ahead on RSN on Friday.
“I watched the races yesterday from home. It did appear the stand side was slightly favoured.
“If that’s the case, then barrier seven is the place to be.”
Barrier seven last produced a Darley Classic winner in 2009 with All Silent saluting from the gate for the first time since Sudurka (2001).
A bigger hoodoo for Buffering to overcome this weekend however is his age, no eight-year-old taking out the sprint feature in over 30 years.
Heathcote though knows he has Buffering in as good a form as ever and he’ll be up there leading looking to go all-the-way and secure his sixth Group 1 trophy.
“I kind of thought that [an easy lead was on the cards] going into the Manikato too, but it wasn’t the case,” he said.
“We know the way Buffering races, and the other jockeys will be mindful of that as well.
“Their best form is stalking the lead and sitting off the back of the pace with cover, and coming hard late. It’ll be an interesting tactical battle, no doubt.”
Buffering is paying $15 in the latest Darley Classic odds with the other single figure hopes outside the short-priced favourite behind Ciaron Maher’s dual Group 1 winning mare Srikandi ($8) coming off a Manikato Stakes second first-up and the reigning champion Terravista ($8) drawn the rails with Cox Plate winning hoop Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
Back your Darley Classic selections on Saturday at Ladbrokes.com.au and lock in Best Tote or SP + 20% on every horse in every race across the Flemington card for Emirates Stakes Day!