Al Quoz Sprint winner Buffering will not travel to Royal Ascot in June after his run in the Group 1 Chariman’s Sprint Prize in Hong Kong next month.
Trainer Robert Heathcote suggested after the eight-year-old bay gelding had picked up a seventh victory at the highest level at Meydan last month that the King’s Stand Stakes was on the agenda.
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Having spoken to several trainers with experience of the trip, however, he has decided to concentrate on an Australian campaign.
“The reason Buffering is the marvel that he is, is because he’s been very looked after,” the trainer said.
“We’ve never gone to the well too many times.
“I spoke personally to Peter Moody [trainer of Black Caviar] and Joe Janiak [trainer of Takeover Target] and they said while it’s a wonderful trip, it’s not easy.”
Buffering has won the Group 1 Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley in October three times and a fourth bid will be the target later in the season following his return from Hong Kong.
“We don’t feel it’s in the horse’s best interests to subject him to further travels beyond Hong Kong,” Heathcote added, in an interview with www.racing.com.
“What else does he have to prove?
“While winning at Royal Ascot would’ve been an unbelievable feeling, it’s not the primary goal with this horse.
“We want to get him home from Hong Kong safe and sound, give him a spell, and an opportunity to enjoy the sun on his back.
“We can come back to Melbourne and go for an unprecedented fourth Moir Stakes.
“I know the Moir Stakes is a long way from the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot, but to us, it’s just as important.”
Australia’s sprint challenge at Royal Ascot could be greatly reduced after Buffering’s rival in Hong Kong, Chautauqua, could also sidestep a trip to Britain.
Chautauqua twice beat Buffering in Australia last season, in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes and the Group 1 Darley Classic. Trainer Rupert Legh has also canvassed the opinions of the Black Caviar team, who successfully sent the unbeaten mare to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012, and has yet to make up his mind.
“If he can tell us that he can handle the travel, go to Hong Kong, perform at his best, then that’s the sort of question we need to have answered first before we give any consideration of taking that next step and going to the other side of the world and racing in Ascot,” Legh said.
“It would be absolutely fantastic to do it, and to represent Australia with what we consider as a world-class horse, but at the end of the day the horse comes first and if there’s any doubt in our mind that he doesn’t handle the travel, or there’s a concern about his future, then it’s definitely a no go.”
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