BUFFERING is headed for the T. J. Smith Stakes as the No.1 sprinter in the land.
The Queensland horse, which lived in the shadow of Black Caviar and Hay List for a few seasons, reaffirmed his status as he defied a determined late challenge from Moment of Change to win the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday by the narrowest of margins.
Trainer Rob Heathcote said Buffering had earned his status as Australia's premier sprinter after wins in the Manikato, the VRC Sprint Classic and now the Group 1 at Ascot.
Heathcote said jockey Damian Browne thought Buffering was "gone" at the 50m mark, but the horse could feel the presence of Moment of Change.
"He (Browne) said he felt the horse rise to the challenge and dig in enough to win." Heathcote told racingnetwork.com.au.
"There was only an inch in it but it's fair to say he's had his share of bad luck and been knocked off by some freakish runs.
"Racing is a funny game.
"It wasn't that long ago that Buffering was getting beaten in Group 1s for the 15th, 16th, 17th time.
"I was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to win one and he's gone bang, bang, bang.
"We know he wasn't as good as Black Caviar and Hay List, but they're not here any more so he has stepped into the breach."
Meanwhile, trainer Peter Snowden said Earthquake could be the horse to provide him with his second Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) triumph in four seasons.
Snowden, who won Victoria's premier two-year-old event in 2011 with star colt Sepoy, said Earthquake could win the $1 million juvenile feature this time round.
Snowden said the daughter of Exceed And Excel would likely resume at Caulfield in either the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m) on January 25, or the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) two weeks later.
"I think she's pretty much what I need for the Diamond," Snowden said. "She's quite a precocious filly and she's quite athletic.
"She's had two weeks in the paddock and I'm bringing her back in tomorrow at the farm where she'll have a week on the water walker and then come to the stable where we'll have plenty of time to ease her into a Blue Diamond Preview or Prelude.
"Whether we give her two lead-up runs (into the Blue Diamond) or one we'll decide when she comes back in work but I think she's tailor made for a race like the Diamond."
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