The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
While all the attention early this week is on the 2012 Melbourne Cup, on Saturday after the Cup has been run and won the sprinters will steal centre stage for the 2012 Patinack Farm Classic where the Robert Heathcote-trained Buffering will look to return to form.
Twelve months ago the Brisbane galloper finished off their Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival raid with a brave second to superstar mare Black Caviar in the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m).
On Saturday they return for a second shot at the last major sprint showdown of the season this time in a Black Caviar-less Patianck Farm Classic field.
The Mossman five-year-old will be fourth-up this time in, Buffering having won back-to-back races first and second up before their disappointing sixth to Sea Siren in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) last start.
While their Manikato effort was below par Heathcote is confident Buffering can bounce back in the Patinack where he is likely to face a very similar field of rivals.
Buffering showed Heathcote he was ready to return to form after a nice track gallop at Flemington on Saturday morning when working with stablemate Excellantes.
“The Manikato was a disappointing result but I’m confident he can bounce back at Flemington,” Heathcote said.
“I think Hugh (Bowman) might have erred by trying to hold him up in the lead but it didn’t suit Buffering because he was changing stride several times and clearly resented being restrained.
“On Saturday Hugh will be given firm instructions to let him run.
“In the Newmarket during the autumn he reeled off some brilliant sectionals when he ran along in the lead and it took a horse like Hay List the length of the straight to run him down in the last stride.”
Heathcote will also be represented in the marquee race at Flemington on Saturday by Toorak Handicap winner Solzhenitsyn in the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m), who, like Buffering, will be out to re-entre the winners’ stall after running as the beaten favourite last time out.
The progressive St Petersburg six-year-old backed up from their Toorak win to run third behind Silent Achiever in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day and Heathcote knows they will be more suited to the Flemington track as opposed to the tight turns at the Valley.
“He got shuffled back at a vital stage but he was flying home at the finish and there’s no doubt in my mind Flemington will suit him better,” he said.
“The Emirates has always been his goal in Melbourne.”
The 2012 Patinack Farm Classic final field, along with all the acceptances for Emirates Stakes Day, are due for released on Wednesday and will be published right here at Races.com.au.
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