Placed 10 times previously at the group I level, Queensland sprinter Buffering
finally earned an elusive victory in a white-knuckle finish of the $1 million ($959,557 in U.S. funds)) Manikato Stakes (Aus-I) Oct. 25 at Moonee Valley.
The 6-year-old Mossman gelding raced to the outside of Le Bonsir, who set a tepid pace, and dispatched that opponent before the home turn to take charge. He shook off a brief challenge from Shamexpress but then had to dig deep in the closing stages to fight off Hong Kong champion sprinter Lucky Nine, who rallied furiously to wear him down but was a short a half head in a thrilling finish.
Making his 18th start in a group I race, Buffering covered 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) in 1:11.44 at 15-2 odds.
"What a way to break the drought," trainer Robert Heathcote said. "Eighteen goes at a group I and he gets the job done tonight in a $1 million race. That's something special.
"They say this is the place where legends are made and he's a legend for me."
Ridden by Damian Browne, Buffering worked across the track from post 10 and took up the running with Le Bonsir. He easily saw off Shamexpress entering the straight and looked comfortably en route to victory before Lucky Nine came with a late bid 50 meters from the finish line.
Sessions stormed along the rail to take third, a neck back, while 2-1 favorite Samaready found the early pace too slow from far back in the field and finished eighth.
Buffering has 13 wins, including six group victories, nine seconds, and five thirds from 36 career starts and earnings in excess of Aus$3.2 million. Heathcote said the gelding will be aimed at the VRC Classic (Aus-I) at the same distance Nov. 9, final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
His record of six seconds in group I races includes the 2011 Patinack Farm Classic (now the VRC Classic) behind Black Caviar
; the 2012 Newmarket Handicap, denied a nose by Hay List
; the 2012 and 2013 editions of Stradbroke Handicap; and the Moir Stakes behind Samaready
Sept. 27 at Moonee Valley in his start prior to the Manikato.
The winning Anabaa mare Action Annie is the dam of Buffering, who was bred in Australia by Racetree and is raced by a partnership.
Sire Mossman, a 12-year-old son of Success Express, stands at Vinery Australia.