Buffering (AUS) might have been the first Australian horse to take part at the Dubai World Cup meeting since 2012 but he ran out a decisive winner of the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Meydan Hotels and Hospitality.
Three-quarters of a length separated Buffering from local favourite Ertijaal (IRE) and Peniaphobia (IRE), the Hong Kong Sprint champion. The time was slick at 56.34 seconds, fractionally outside the race record, and make no mistake this was strong form.
“I don’t know if I have the vocabulary to describe it but I think a coldie (drink) is going to taste pretty good pretty soon!” smiled the ebullient winning trainer Robert Heathcote.
“He’s not necessarily the fastest horse in the world, but, gee, he is tough. I knew he would be hard to beat once I saw Damian (Browne, jockey) sitting motionless on him halfway up the straight. He has beaten some brilliant horses tidily in the end.”
Buffering is the second winner of the Al Quoz Sprint since Ortensia landed the race four years ago. Australian horses have long been regarded as superior sprinters and this latest victory on the greatest stage of all only confirms that impression.
Indeed, Heathcote was left to muse on what his eight-year-old veteran might have achieved had he not mixed it with some of the country’s greatest ever speedsters.
“It took him 18 attempts to win a Group 1 but now he has won seven of them in his last 13 tries. He’s such a popular horse back home. I think it is part of our Aussie psyche as he was an underdog for so long. He has raced against the likes of Black Caviar, Hay List and Sepoy but now he has shown that he is a pretty good horse himself,” Heathcote added.
“He has taken on the best in the world today and I’m just damn proud of him. He has run a time which is a career best for him and he has done it at the age of eight.”
Jockey Browne has been Buffering’s partner for all of his major wins and shook his head in admiration as he returned to weigh in.
“He’s such a warrior. He’s getting better with age,” he remarked.
“I was worried beforehand that a couple of the others would be a bit slick for him over the 1000m but he was able to jump well and be right up there. From there I knew he would be strong at the finish as 1200m is probably his optimum distance.”
Buffering continues on his travels in the immediate future. He will next to go to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on May 1.
Heathcote concluded: “After that we will think about going to Ascot to shake hands with the Queen. The King’s Stand Stakes looks the likeliest option at this stage.”