By Rod Nicholson Courtesy of the Herald Sun Picture Daniel Wilkins
BUFFERING will never compare with the legendary sprinter Black Caviar but he will be forever remembered as the gallant galloper who simply outlasted champ after champ to become a champion in his own right.
The now eight-year-old was regarded as the proverbial bridesmaid when he repeatedly ran into superstars _ Black Caviar, Sepoy, Lankan Rupee and Hay List.
He was the sob story: a genuine sprinter who always ran into one better on the day. He ran five seconds, four thirds and four fourths in Group 1 races until finally he cracked the elite level in October 2013.
Sure, he no longer had to compete against the stars mentioned above. However his longevity and class belatedly prevailed as he overcame the majority of the new challengers.
Think Brazen Beau, Lankan Rupee, Chautauqua and Terravista and he’s beaten them in recent years.
The victory by Buffering in the Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot on Saturday was his sixth at Group 1 level. It was his 31st Group 1 start, which included one in Hong Kong. T rainer Robert Heathcote deserves credit not only for his handling of the son of Mossman, but his unshakable belief that one day he would win a Group 1. N ow he has won six and he has become the third highest stakes winning sprinter this nation has produced.
He boasts an extraordinary $5,842,366 in prizemoney, which, when you consider how close he came to winning so many other Group races, is a dream result for a galloper who took five years to belatedly reach the pinnacle of racing.
Heathcote intends to run him in a Magic Millions race at the Gold Coast and victory in that race would take him past Hay List ($6,019,400) on the national sprinters’ prizemoney order.
The incessant prizemoney increase in sprint races eventually will mean that even the incomparable Black Caviar’s 25 unbeaten career record and $7,953,963 will be overhauled.
If it happens to be Buffering there will be few who bemoan his ascension to the top of the list.
He will never be the best-of-the-best, but if he accepts an invitation to Dubai and happens to win, he will eclipse Black Caviar’s benchmark. Those who felt so sorry for Buffering, Heathcote and Co when he repeatedly put in gallant efforts but could never reach the post first now are revelling in his rise to supremacy.
After he broke the Group 1 drought in October of 2013, he has won six Group 1 races. That in itself is testimony to his ability, but more so to his resilience that has allowed him to face the best there is to offer and continue to keep trying.
He’s a star who should be saluted.