Robert Heathcote knows he’s done his job when he sees Buffering dancing.
Heathcote has kept a sharp eye on Buffering’s fitness since he returned from a spell and has declared the gelding in mint condition for Friday night’s Group One A J Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
“I love to see him dancing around the enclosure like he did before his exhibition gallop at Doomben,” Heathcote said.
“He’s ready. Everything has gone exactly to my plan.”
Heathcote chose to give Buffering a hitout between races last Wednesday at Doomben to ensure he was mentally, more so than physically, prepared for the Moir.
“It wasn’t so much for a course proper gallop (but) I wanted him in the race day stalls, to hear the loud speakers, with lots of people and lots of activity … a simulated raceday,” Heathcote said.
“Because horses can get themselves a little bit worked up, I wanted to knock any anxiety on the head before the Valley.”
A nine-time Group One placegetter, Buffering won the 2012 Moir when it was a Group Two race.
Meanwhile, Heathcote has foreshadowed a slight change of riding tactics for Solzhenitsyn, who will be ridden by Nash Rawiller, in the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Sunday.
The gelding opened his spring campaign with a second placing to Riva De Lago in the Sebring Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on September 14 after showing surprising speed from the barriers for jockey Jason Collett.
“I’m certainly not critical of Jason’s ride but it was never the plan to sit outside Rain Affair,” Heathcote said.
“Our plan was to be two pairs back, maybe even three pairs back but he jumped so well and Jason said after the race if he had his ride over again he might have come out a touch colder on him.”
Heathcote said Solzhenitsyn pulled up “brilliantly” and had settled in well since arriving at Flemington to prepare for Sunday’s assignment where he is likely to settle off the speed.
Fire Up Fifi finished second last, with Glyn Schofield aboard, in the Sheraco Stakes won by Driefontein on September 14 but Heathcote is overlooking her defeat.
“There was nothing to take her into the race and Glyn said `forget the run, she ran brilliantly’.”
The mare travelled with Solzhenitsyn by float to Melbourne and is likely to have her next start in the Group Two Blazer Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on October 5.