Winterbottom Stakes

Image Petch/News Ltd
Damian Browne guides Buffering home in the VRC Sprint Classic. Image courtesy of Petch/News Ltd

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Buffering has run in to plenty of roadblocks throughout his career, with the likes of Black Caviar and Hay List headlining a golden generation of Australian sprinters. But after 18 attempts at Group 1 level, the Queenslander finally cracked it for his first win at the top level with victory in the Manikato Stakes, and the 6-year-old gelding showed it was no fluke beating a quality field in the VRC Sprint Classic on the final day of the carnival at Flemington on Saturday.

Trainer Rob Heathcote was contacted by an international recruiter with a view to bringing the star sprinter over for the Royal Ascot Carnival, but his full focus is on Ascot racetrack in Perth as he fulfils a promise to bring Buffering to Perth to race in the Winterbottom Stakes on Super Saturday. It will be his fourth start this preparation after a first-up second placing in the Group 1 Moir Stakes when he had every opportunity to break his duck at that level, but that run on a damp night at Moonee Valley seems a long time back given his two recent victories.

West Australian star Barakey headed to Melbourne in February with a big reputation after winning its first eleven starts, including last year’s Winterbottom, but he played up in the barriers before Oakleigh Plate and had to be scratched. The gelding ran a fortnight later in the Newmarket Handicap but finished a disappointing 11th and sustained a knee fracture. He won first-up returning from leg surgery in the Prince of Wales Stakes over 1200 metres at Ascot maintaining his unbeaten record in the West. Power Princess was a narrow second in that race after also coming off a spell and Simon Miller will be hoping to go one better with the seven-year-old after also finishing behind Barakey in last year’s Winterbottom.

Spirit Of Boom finished third in last year’s renewal of the race and comes in to this in good form after placing at all four starts this campaign. The highlight was his win in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint where the six-year-old record his first win in ten attempts in Melbourne. His last start was on the first day of the Flemington carnival when he made good ground from the back to come home second as Fontelina made it back-to-back wins in the Yellowglen Stakes over 1200 metres.

Barakey and Spirit Of Boom fared best in the barrier draw snaring the two inside gates.  Buffering will have a bit of work to do to get across from gate eight, while Spirit Of Boom will start next to him in nine.

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