The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
A return to Melbourne for a fourth Moir Stakes win in five years is the more likely option for Al Quoz Sprint winner Buffering post his Hong Kong run in early May over a trip to Royal Ascot according to Robert Heathcote.
The veteran sprinter from Brisbane continued to make history in his international debut on March 26 taking out Dubai’s Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) with his regular rider Damian Browne aboard once more.
He had his first ever run outside of Australia at his 52nd career start and despite being a rising nine-year-old, the son of Mossman was going as good as ever winning by three-quarters of a length.
Buffering has now amassed over $7.2 million in prize money, the Al Quoz his seventh Group 1 success, and will look to continue the gun form when taking on Australia’s best sprinter Chautauqua in the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) in Hong Kong on May 1.
The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Encosta De Lago grey Chautauqua hit the top of futures Chairman’s Sprint Prize odds at the Australian bookmakers after his incredible Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) success at Randwick over the weekend.
He took out the same race last autumn, and looked in an impossible position to go back-to-back before coming from last to first to win running away with Tommy Berry in the saddle of the superstar.
It set the scene for an epic clash between he and Buffering in Hong Kong next month, but both champions are in doubt for a trip to England for the Royal Ascot carnival.
Instead Heathcote said Buffering was more likely to be saved for another Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign targeting his fourth win in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley in October.
“We don’t feel it’s in the horse’s best interests to subject him to further travels beyond Hong Kong,” Heathcote told Racing Victoria.
“What else does he have to prove?
“While winning at Royal Ascot would’ve been an unbelievable feeling, it’s not the primary goal with this horse.
“We want to get him home from Hong Kong safe and sound – give him a spell, and an opportunity to enjoy the sun on his back.
“We can come back to Melbourne and go for an unprecedented fourth Moir Stakes.
“I know the Moir Stakes is a long way from the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, but to us, it’s just as important.”
Buffering first won the Moir when the race only held Group 2 status in 2012 before running second to Samaready when it first ran as a Group 1 event the following year.
He has run and won the subsequent two editions of the feature taking out the 2014 and 2015 races, last year’s event contested over 1000m down from 1200m for the first time.
Heathcote was adamant Buffering’s wellbeing was his number one priority, and that chasing the riches in England was a tough ask of any horse let alone an eight-year-old.
“The reason Buffering is the marvel that he is, is because he’s been very looked after,” he said.
“We’ve never gone to the well too many times.
“I spoke personally to Peter Moody [Black Caviar] and Joe Janiak [Takeover Target], and they said whilst it’s a wonderful trip, it’s not easy.”
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