8-year-old horse leaves young runners in the dust

BY ANY standards this was an extraordinary achievement.

A horse that is eight years old is not meant to run like a spritely four-year-old and leave his younger rivals struggling to catch up in the chase to the line. Not in Group 1 company.

Not when coming back from an injury-enforced layoff. Not first-up in nearly ten months over a distance short of its best.

But late on Friday night, under the Moonee Valley floodlights, Buffering did just that.

When Damian Browne kept pointing down to Buffering on their return to scale on Friday after the gelding had secured his third success in the Moir Stakes, he was correctly redirecting the applause and acknowledgement to the headline act.

In truth though, the Buffering bandwagon which has thrilled fans and created followers across all states, has truly been an integral team effort.

Trainer Rob Heathcote has handled the horse with aplomb. Friday night was the start of Buffering's eleventh preparation. He has now won in ten out of eleven preparations and in three of those he achieved multiple victories.

Heathcote has had to deal with several issues and disappointments with Buffering but his knowledge of the horse's physical and mental requirements meant he has always managed to keep Buffering's morale high enough for the horse never to have lost his urge to compete ... Friday night being the crowning glory in that story.

Then there is the jockey.

To have repeat success at the highest level means that horse and rider have to work together in an environment where a split second hesitation by either party can spell the difference between victory and defeat. In essence they have to trust each other.

Good results are a product of that trust and understanding and the fact that Damian Browne has now ridden Buffering in twenty races for seven wins stands as a testament to their prowess as a team ... bearing in mind that their outstanding 35% overall strike rate has all come in Group company.

Amplifying that fact is that Browne has now partnered Buffering in no less than sixteen Group 1's for five wins. That gives them a Group 1 strike-rate of 31.25%, a statistic made all the more remarkable by the fact that Heathcote has never being shy to set Buffering against the best on offer at any particular time, be it taking on Black Caviar or going for an international assignment in Hong Kong.

And then there is Buffering himself. What a team player he has been!

His reputation has been built on his competitive nature. You have to beat him to beat him. But, looking back now, perhaps too much has been made of his fighting quality at the expense of recognising his clearly superior ability.

They go hand in hand, and few have done better.

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