Rob Heathcote admits he’s a realist as well as a dreamer.
Still chasing his elusive first Group One win following Woorim’s shock failure in Saturday’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield, Heathcote’s dream of winning at the highest level continues with Buffering in the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Buffering produced a courageous performance to fight off his challengers for a narrow victory over the ill-fated Crystal Lily in the Group Three McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 10.
The three-time premier Queensland trainer has since endured a roller-coaster ride of emotions after being embroiled in a running and handling inquiry following the defeat of heavily-backed favourite Trump at Doomben 10 days ago.
Stewards suspended jockey Larry Cassidy for three months when their inquiry continued on Monday but the rider is appealing.
With the inquiry behind him, Heathcote is now focusing on Buffering’s clash with star colt Sepoy and multiple Group One winner More Joyous who resumes in the Manikato Stakes.
“I’m a realist as well as a dreamer and I know how tough it’s going to be for Buffering against those two champions,” Heathcote said.
Heathcote added blinkers for the first time on Buffering in his McEwen Stakes triumph and he’s hoping another tactical decision will help Buffering cause a Manikato upset.
“The blinkers are coming back off this time,” Heathcote said.
“They served their purpose last time but we want him to have a bit more field of vision.
“He’s a tough little fighter and he kept giving when he won at Moonee Valley last start.
“He’ll be ridden forcefully again and this time he’ll be able to see when they come at him.”
Heathcote has dismissed Woorim’s defeat on the hard Caulfield track and is backing him up in a 1600-metre Open Handicap on Friday night while Trump will step up to an 1800-metre race at Flemington on Sunday.
Talented mare Fillydelphia could also join Heathcote’s trio in Melbourne after trialling well at Doomben on Tuesday.
Fillydelphia, who hasn’t started since finishing seventh in the Group One Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm in June, ran home solidly for fourth to Listen Son in a 1060-metre trial.
“I was very happy with her trial but she’ll start off up here in a 1300-metre Quality at Eagle Farm on Saturday week,” Heathcote said.
“It’s a possibility she could down to Melbourne for fillies and mares races in the last month of the carnival.
“If she doesn’t there’s another Quality race here for her late next month.”