Robert Heathcote admits for one fleeting moment he considered extending his Buffering’s career by one more run.
But he only had to remember the look in jockey Damian Browne’s eyes to quickly dismiss the idea of a rich sprint race on Magic Millions day in January.
Buffering ran his last race when sixth behind Rebel Dane in the Group One Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
“It was tempting to have one more go. After all in the Magic Millions race he would have only 61 kilograms against an average lot of horses and it would have been ending his career in Queensland,” Heathcote said.
“But I have always said Buffering would tell me when he was ready to retire and it is now.
“Damian came back to scale with tears in his eyes.”
“He said normally at the 600 metres, Buffering would cart him into the race but Damian was at him to go on.”
Heathcote said he only had to look at some other top horses who had raced on too long to see the dangers ahead.
“I would never forgive myself if anything happened to him. In the end it was the right decision to retire him,” he said.
Heathcote said Buffering would now head to the Living Legends farm in Victoria but would be a regular visitor to Queensland.
“They do a fantastic job at Living Legends which has many other champions – Apache Cat, Fields of Omagh, etc,” Heathcote said.
“Buffering will be back up here and we will have him at the races a few times to say goodbye to his fans.
“One of the owners (Bruce Harry) has a property on Brisbane’s outskirts and he will be well looked after when he comes north.
“If any horse deserves a good retirement it is Buffering.
“I think his great legacy has been his toughness. He has raced against the elite – Black Caviar, Hay List, Star Witness, Sepoy, Beaded, Press Day, Foxwedge, Scenic Blast, Spirit of Boom, Temple of Boom, etc, etc.
“They have all gone their separate ways but Buffering was competitive to the very end.”
“It has been a wonderful trip for myself and the owners and we will never forget it. Now it is time for Buff to enjoy the rest of his days in comfort.”
BUFFERING AT A GLANCE
* Bay gelding 9yo – Mossman-Action Annie
* Price: $22,000 (2009 Magic Millions Sales)
* Prize money: $7,300,194
* First race: Won Doomben 2YO (March 27, 2010)
* Last race: Sixth Manikato Stakes, Moonee Valley (October 22, 2016)
* Race record: 55 starts: 20 wins and 17 minor placings.
* Stakes races: 48 starts: 13 wins and 17 minor placings.
* Group One wins: Moir Stakes (2), Winterbottom Stakes (2), Manikato Stakes, Dubai Al Quoz Sprint, VRC Sprint
* Named Queensland Horse of the Year a record five times.