Racing: Hong Kong trip likely

Black Caviar. Photo / AP
Black Caviar. Photo / AP

Black Caviar's absence from this year's spring carnival and beyond could provide star Queensland sprinter Buffering with his first chance to race overseas.

While Queensland trainer Robert Heathcote said Melbourne plans for Buffering would be unaffected by Tuesday's announcement about Black Caviar's immediate future, the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December was now a realistic target race.

Black Caviar has been ruled out of the spring carnival - and an end-of-year Hong Kong start.

"With Black Caviar not going to be there, I think Hong Kong very much comes into the reckoning for him now," said Heathcote.

Heathcote said an upcoming Melbourne spring campaign for Buffering had the potential for at least two clashes with Black Caviar if the unbeaten mare was put back into work.

"Her not being around in Melbourne doesn't change our thinking," he said. "Buffering will still start off in the Schillaci and then head to the Manikato and then the Patinack Farm Classic.

"If she was going to be there for the spring we would have run into her again."

Frustratingly for connections, Buffering is yet to win a group one race but he has posted seven placings at the elite level. He has chased home Black Caviar in three of those minor returns when placed in last year's BTC Cup and Patinack Farm Classic and this year's Lightning Stakes.

A Winterbottom Stakes start during the Perth summer carnival is also a possibility for the A$1.7 million earner.

Buffering is due back in Heathcote's premiership-winning Eagle Farm stable next week.

"He'll be coming back into the stable on Monday," the trainer said.

"I wanted to give him a good spell to get over the gruelling effects of the Stradbroke run."

Dual group one-winning sprinter Atomic Force will be an early spring visitor to Melbourne after proving his fitness with a barrier trial win over Secret Admirer at Randwick on Monday.

The winner of the 2011 Galaxy and the Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year's Day, Atomic Force was ruled out of the autumn with a knee strain.

Nash Rawiller, who rode him to his group one wins, partnered the Darren Smith-trained gelding in the trial and said he won well.

"Today he went through his gears and let down and obviously won the trial with a little bit in hand."

- AAP

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