After seasons of playing the bridesmaid, Queensland sprinter Buffering has finally broken through at Group 1 level, winning the $1 million Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Starting $7.50 second favourite, Buffering went to the lead early and held off Irish import Lucky Nine by the narrowest of margins, with Darley 4 year old Sessions less than half a length back in third.
Moody-trained Moment of Change missed the start by 2 lengths and was held up for a run around the final turn but motored home over the last furlong to finish a close up fourth.
Winning trainer Robert Heathcote was noticeably relieved and ecstatic. After second placings in each of the Group 1 Patinak Classic, Newmarket Handicap, Doomben 10,000 and Stradbroke Handicap (twice) it was fitting that Buffering finally got his big one.
"Geez what do you say, 18 goes at a Group 1, and he gets the job done today in a million dollar race. Man that's something special", Heathcote said after the nail biting win.
Coming in to the race with 12 wins and 14 placings from 35 starts, mostly at the highest level, the star gelding always ran well, but could never break through at the top level.
"He just puts in every time", Heathcote said.
"They say this is the place where legends are made, and he's a legend to me".
Short price favourite Samaready ran on late, but the race was already over. He finished in 8th spot but in a blanket finish, was only a length and a half behind the winner.
He will head to the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington on November 9, where he will again meet Buffering, Lucky Nine, Moment Of Change and other runners from the Manikato, was well as boom 3 year old Zoustar, who is currently favourite for the spring classic.