Manikato Stakes Preview: Justice for Buffering

The Manikato Stakes takes place at Moonee Valley on Friday

There is not a racing pundit who would begrudge tough Queensland sprinter Buffering a win in the G1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley...

"Placed in seven of his 11 Group 1 race starts and rated 126 by Timeform, Buffering is easily the highest rated runner in the field..."

For the last eighteen months, Buffering has lived in the shadow of champion sprinter Black Caviar as well as Hay List and Sepoy. With those three stars off the scene, Buffering is the "heir apparent" to Australia's sprinting crown - at least for this Spring.

Placed in seven of his 11 Group 1 race starts and rated 126 by Timeform, Buffering is easily the highest rated runner in the field, the Manikato Stakes being run under lights and for the first time as a pre-cursor to the G1 Cox Plate on Saturday.

The Manikato Stakes is one of the few Group 1 sprints in Australia that Black Caviar has not contested. First run in 1968 as the Freeway Stakes and then later renamed in honour of the great sprinter Manikato who twice won the race himself (1979/1982), the race has been won by some of Australia's best gallopers.

Counted amongst them are Hay List (2010), Miss Andretti (2006), Redoute's Choice (1999), Sunline (2000), Strawberry Road (1983), Rubiton (1987), Tauto (1973/4), Dual Choice (1970/1) and Vain (1969). This year's winner will indeed join a select group.

A scan of Buffering's record in the last twelve months will reveal second placings to Black Caviar in the G1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) last spring, a third behind Black Caviar and Hay List in the G1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington and a head defeat to Hay List in the G1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m), also at Flemington. Subsequent performances in his home state during the winter saw him edge his Timeform rating to 126 with narrow defeats behind Sea Siren in the Doomben 10000 (1350m) and Mid Summer Music in the G1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).

Buffering currently trading at 2.226/5 on Betfair, remains unbeaten in two starts this campaign, both in Melbourne. Fresh up he accounted for Ready To Rip at Moonee Valley over 1200m in the G2 Moir Stakes then won with plenty in hand in the G2 Schillaci Stakes over 1000m at Caulfield running to 124, just two pounds off his peak figure.

Last year Buffering was fourth behind Sepoy with More Joyous third in the Manikato Stakes after that memorable speed battle with the winner early in the race. But that scenario looks unlikely to be repeated tonight. A two time winner around Moonee Valley, Buffering has drawn ideally in one and regular rider Hugh Bowman should be able to control the race from the outset. Accordingly, I am expecting a return to a 126 rating this evening, a figure that if repeated will almost certainly put this race out of reach for his opponents.

The main dangers on ratings appear to be Sea Siren, We're Gonna Rock and Ready To Rip.

Exciting mare Sea Siren, 6.6011/2 on Betfair, will be making her first racetrack appearance since the Brisbane winter carnival where she reached a new career peak Timeform rating of 121 earned from wins in the G1 BTC Cup and Doomben 10000. Only lightly raced, Sea Siren has won five races from eight starts, her improvement last campaign coming rapidly on the back of excellent efforts in Sydney behind the classy Streama.

At her first Brisbane run she comfortably defeated Scenic Blast in the G1 BTC Cup over 1200m at Doomben then became the first three-year-old filly to win the G1 Doomben 10000 over 1350m, a race in which she narrowly defeated Buffering after an enthralling battle in the closing stages. At her last run she failed in the G1 Stradbroke Handicap when asked to set a new weight carrying record for a three-year-old filly, the race going to Mid Summer Music from Buffering.

Sea Siren is an promising sprinter. Trainer John O'Shea has hopes of securing a berth for her in the Hong Kong Sprint later this year and her performance tonight will be crucial to that aim. O'Shea has given the mare two barrier trials to prepare her for this assignment winning the last one at Randwick over 810m ten days ago. After the mares' allowance under the weight for age conditions of the race is factored into the weight-adjusted ratings, Sea Siren at her best rates within a pound of Buffering. It should be another interesting matchup between the pair who so far have met three times with the mare holding a two-to-one head-to-head advantage.

The Mark Kavanagah-trained We're Gonna Rock, trading at 14.0013/1 and rated 120 by Timeform, continues his quest for a Group 1 success. Dropping back from the 1400m of the Rupert Clarke Stakes last time out when runner up to Moment Of Change should be a positive.

The son of Fastnet Rock went up to challenge the winner at the top of the straight but failed to run out a strong 1400m at Group 1 level.
It is worth noting that We're Gonna Rock was runner up to Champion mare Black Caviar in the G1 Goodwood (1200m) earlier this year and a repeat of that performance keeps him in the frame tonight.

A much improved Ready To Rip, Timeform rated 119, from the Peter Moody stable is worthy of consideration. Since coming from Queensland, Ready To Rip, priced at 18.0017/1, has started four times for Moody for two wins and as many placings taking his rating from 102 to 119.

This will be his toughest task to date, never previously having contested a Group 1 event. However, if a line is taken through his last start when narrowly beaten by Buffering in the G2 Moir Stakes around Moonee Valley after being held up for a clear run in the early part of the straight, then he must be conceded a chance this evening. Clearly Buffering has gone on fitness wise since that meeting; however it would be foolish to believe Ready To Rip may not have scope for more to come either.

One for the value seekers and multiples is definitely Lone Rock, currently trading at 13.012/1 on Betfair, and rated 115 by Timeform. Already a Group 1 winner of the 2011 Goodwood, she has never been far away at this level finishing fourth and fifth behind Black Caviar and fifth to Foxwedge in the William Reid Stakes over 1200m at Moonee Valley (a neck behind Buffering). Lone Rock is second up here but did catch the eye fresh up behind Buffering in the Moir Stakes beaten just under four lengths after striking trouble in the straight.

This looks to be Buffering's best chance to register that elusive Group 1 success.

Visit timeform.com to get your FREE TIMEFORM CARD for Moonee Valley. And remember, the Cox Plate card will be covered in full live on Timeform Radio.

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