Dubai: Buffering has won a staggering 12 Group races in his native Australia and he added another big prize to that striking tally, outsprinting his 12 rivals to win a thrilling renewal of the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint, sponsored by Meydan Hotels & Hospitality.
Trained by Rob Heathcote, the Queensland-based eight-year-old gelding who cost just A$22,000 as a yearling, has rewarded his owners (a nine-member syndicate) 10 times over with prize money in excess of A$7,000,000.
Even if he had to dig deep for jockey Damian Browne to hold off local hope Ertijaal, the mount of former British champion Paul Hanagan, Buffering always looked the winner as the field got closer to the line.
Less than a length separated the pair, with Hong Kong’s Peniaphobia a neck back in third and Godolphin’s Jungle Cat, just ¾ lengths in fourth.
“Look, I was confident if he turned up with his A game he was going to be very hard to beat, he’s raced the best sprinters in Australia and look I’m not blowing my trumpet, Aussie’s have had the best sprinters in the world I think for the last 10-20 years,” said an elated Heathcote.
“You saw that with Black Caviar she won Ascot on three legs. What she used do to him is what he did to them tonight, that’s how good she was.
“But look he’s an old marble, we call him the little bulldog and he showed that tonight. Wow what a feeling,” he added, “The plan was to go to Royal Ascot initially but the time constraints knocked that on the head, so we are going to Hong Kong for the Chairman’s Sprint on May 1.
“I believe Nick Smith is here from Royal Ascot and he might try and entice me to go to Royal Ascot so I’m sure we’ll work something out.”
Ertijaal hit the front with a furlong to run, but Damian Browne was able to prise out a second wind from his veteran campaigner for a landmark victory aboard the horse who was notching his 20th win in 52 starts. Browne was delighted to secure a maiden victory at Meydan and said: “He was in terrific form before the race. He broke really well, to be honest beforehand I was more worried about the first 200m, thinking some of the others might have been a bit too quick for him.
“Once he was able to travel I was pretty confident we were going to win.”
Paul Hanagan felt that Ertijaal’s behaviour in the gates may have impacted his overall performance. “He got very upset in the gates, he can have his day in the gates. The more upset he gets the more it can affect him,” he said. “Having said that, he had every chance and we can’t take anything away from the winner.”
Hong Kong’s top jockey Joao Moreira was full of praise for Peniaphobia, who landed the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint for Tony Cruz last December. “He tries very hard, it was just unlucky to find two better horses on the day. The pace was very hot but I was where I wanted to be.
“Buffering came sooner than I thought he would and seemed to be going further away. But I’m very happy he only beat me a length.”
William Buick asserted that the Charlie Appleby-trained Jungle Cat ran a very good race and said that he was really pleased.