“LIFE is great in the Sunshine State” is how excited Dubai course commentator Terry Spargo finished his race call of Queensland-bred sprinter Buffering winning the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) at Meydan in Dubai on Saturday, March 26.
He had good reason for the excitement as Spargo began his race calling career in Queensland in 1978 and spent 16 years calling races at the Gold Coast en route to becoming the resident commentator at Meydan racecourse for the Emirates Racing Association.
At his first start since winning on the richest raceday ever held in Australia, Buffering travelled away from home and swept one of the features at the world's richest raceday. In winning the 8YO gelded son of Mossman sent his earnings soaring past $7 million with a seventh Group 1 win in a 20 win career to date. More could be store with trips planned to Hong Kong and England’s Royal Ascot meeting.
It's been a remarkable career for Buffering who was bought for trainer Robert Heathcote by New Zealand based bloodstock agent Paul Willetts for $22,000 at the 2009 Magic Millions Gold Coast March Yearling Sale.
A proud Heathcote told reporters after the race. "He's not necessarily the fastest horse in the world but he's tough and he showed that tonight. It took him 18 goes to win a Group 1. Now he's won seven of his last 13 attempts and he's travelled the other side of the world and taken on arguably the best the world has to offer at the moment on the biggest stage."
The sheer joy of Buffering’s victory wasn’t confined to Meydan racecourse and, despite the time difference, many Australians revelled in the performance of a home-grown favourite. While I was on my feet cheering, I wouldn’t have matched the excitement of Eliza Park Queensland stud manager, Mark Wooldridge, and avid Ipswich breeders, Bill and Barb Kajewski, who have a very close association with Buffering.
Aushorse web news reports Wooldridge has been involved with Buffering from the word go –before ‘go’, in fact. As the manager of Racetree Stud (as it was then known), Wooldridge sat down with then owner, Kevin Dixon, as they decided where to send 30 or so mares for the 2006 breeding season. One of those mares was the maiden winner, Action Annie, and it was decided to send her to Vinery Stud in the Hunter Valley to be covered by Mossman.
Wooldridge admits to bias with that choice, given that he was so familiar with the sire. Group 1 winner Mossman was bred by and had stood at Peter and Wendy Moran’s Noble Park – the Innisplain property which would be later sold to Dixon and become Racetree.
Having been stud manager for the Morans for seven years, Wooldridge stayed on when Dixon took over. “Buffering was born and raised here (at Innisplain) and we prepped him for the Gold Coast sale in March. He wasn’t really a ‘sale type’ though – a fairly plain bay – and he was eventually sold to Paul Willetts for $22,000,” he said.
Plain bay or otherwise, it was a wise investment as Buffering has now taken his earnings past $7 million following Saturday’s win and, as trainer Rob Heathcote excitedly pointed out: “He could probably race on for a couple more years, while the time (56.34 seconds) was the fastest he’s ever run.”
IPSWICH breeders Bill and Barb Kajewski have cause to be optimistic about the future given they own Buffering’s dam, Action Annie.
They bought the Anabaa (USA) mare at a Gold Coast sale in 2009 in foal to Greenwood Lake for $5000 having previously produced four foals including Buffering. She produced a filly which was a three quarter relation to Buffering but suffered a paddock accident and had to be put down.
“Action Annie was given a year off and by the start of the 2010 season Buffering had won his first four races, so it was decided to send her to Mossman again. She unfortunately missed a couple of times and was later covered by Hidden Dragon (producing a colt). After another year off, Eliza Park International had by then taken over at Racetree and we planned another three- quarter relation with Mossman’s son, Love Conquers All. The colt from that mating is a now a 2YO and is also with Rob Heathcote.
“Action Annie then went back down to the Hunter Valley and Coolmore Stud, producing a filly by Fastnet Rock which is likely to be sold at next year’s Gold Coast Magic Millions. And now she’s in foal to Bel Esprit, sire of Black Caviar who Heathcote cited as one of the major reasons it took Buffering so long to win his first Group 1,” he said.