A few months ago it seemed Buffering might have run his last race but the durable veteran has surprised even his trainer as he heads to Moonee Valley to try to win the Moir Stakes for a fourth time.
And with no Queensland team in this weekend’s NRL grand final it will be up to the sprinter to uphold the state’s pride on Friday.
Buffering injured a leg during the Chairman’s Sprint Prize won by Chautauqua in Hong Kong in May and was also found to have blood in his trachea, prompting talk of retirement.
But after paddock rest and a steady build-up, the nine-year-old has shown his trainer Robert Heathcote he still has what it takes to be competitive.
Buffering and stablemate Hopfgarten arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday with the latter to run in Sunday’s Listed Paris Lane Stakes (1400m) at Flemington.
“They are seasoned travellers and handled the trip well,” Heathcote said.
“Buffering has come back so well I am pinching myself every day.
“My vet can’t believe how well his legs look. He’s loving being in work and loves what he does.
“He’s back at Moonee Valley where he always races well and we know he’s tough.”
He will need to be tough with Chautauqua the favourite for the Group One sprint over 1000 metres.
A natural front runner, Buffering will have a challenger for that position with Redzel in the race.
And Heathcote is of course wary of the favourite Chautauqua who will come from behind.
“The pattern of the race will be that Buffering goes forward and Chautauqua will be coming late,” he said.
“And as I’ve said before, anything that wants to take Buffering on in front might get him beaten but they will bring themselves undone at the same time.”
Although all indications are Buffering is back to his best, Heathcote will have no hesitation pulling the pin if he doesn’t perform.
“We’ll know when he says that’s enough,” he said.
“If the desire to race is not there, then we’ll pull up stumps.
“I know him like the back of my hand and at the moment he’s a happy horse and gives every indication he wants to race.”
Punters are taking their lead from the trainer with Buffering the TAB’s third favourite at $7.50 with Chautauqua $2.10 and three-year-old Extreme Choice $4.60.