Queensland’s big guns Buffering and Damian Browne out to prove the doubters wrong again
ROB Heathcote says Buffering’s jockey Damian Browne has found extra motivation from the “embarrassing disgrace’’ of being snubbed for the Queensland Jockey of The Year award.
Heathcote’s immediate focus is preparing iron horse Buffering for a rematch with sprint sensation Lankan Rupee as the duo tangle in the Group 1 Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
However Heathcote remains flabbergasted, and angry, that Browne was overlooked for the honour of being Queensland’s top jockey at Racing Queensland’s recent awards night.
While Buffering won horse of the year for the third year running, the jockey award went to Brisbane premiership winner Tim Bell who won his first Group 1 on Tinto in the Queensland Oaks.
However Browne won three interstate Group 1s on Buffering and also the $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond on Earthquake, in a season where he also won another 14 black-type races.
The award was voted on by a panel of 25 including racing officials and media.
“It was embarrassing (that Browne didn’t win the award) and a disgrace,’’ Heathcote said. “I know Damian feels slighted and hurt that his amazing feats of the last racing season were not recognised.
“He is looking forward to getting to Melbourne with Buffering and again proving any doubters wrong.’’
Buffering was third to Lankan Rupee in their only meeting in the T.J. Smith in Sydney in April, where another Moir runner, Rebel Dane, was runner-up.
Heathcote feels Buffering is flying before his first-up Moir mission.
Ten nominations have been received for the Moir including Sweet Idea, Tiger Tees, Gregers and Angelic Light, who recently scored a shock win over Lankan Rupee.
TattsBet’s Gerard Daffy forecast Lankan Rupee would start about the $2 favourite with Buffering in a clump of horses around $5-$7 in betting markets.
“Bookies will be happy to take Lankan Rupee on because there is still that niggling doubt about him at Moonee Valley where he has had three starts for only one win,’’ Daffy said.
“I am not silly enough to be writing Buffering off in any race.’’
Buffering will have his final track gallop at Eagle Farm this morning before being loaded on a plane tonight for his Melbourne Spring campaign.
Heathcote feels his veteran sprinter is in terrific shape after never being at his top during the Sydney Autumn or Queensland Winter carnivals.
His only worry is if Buffering draws an inside barrier as he has been prone to missing the start slightly.