March Into Ownership: From $22K to $7.3M

Retired champion Buffering parades in front of fans at the launch of the Magic Millions Gold Coast March Yearling Sale (Magic Millions).


If you ever required breathing and running proof as to the accessibility of racehorse ownership, they don’t come better packaged than Golden Slipper winner, She Will Reign: a $20,000 yearling purchase that took just over a minute to win $2 million last Saturday.

In terms of bargain buys though, She Will Reign is in very good company as Magic Millions was quick to point out on Sunday when it launched the 2017 March Yearling Sale via a “BBQ with Buffering”.

Not surprisingly, there was a large turnout at the Gold Coast with many keen to get up close and personal to one of the biggest stars to ever emerge from Queensland. Or from anywhere for that matter.

Just ask Chris Lord who was with Buffering from the get-go … right from the time the horse was purchased as a yearling at the 2009 Gold Coast Magic Millions … for just $22,000.

Lord was there for Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Hong Kong, Dubai. Get a horse, see the world.

He cheered on for all 55 starts: from the first win at Doomben in March 2010 right to the the Dubai desert as Buffering made the world take notice in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint.

“In terms of my greatest thrill with Buffering, it’s a toss up between his first Group One and his last,” Lord muses. “I really can’t split them.”

That first Group One came in the 2013 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley … his 36th start and 15th attempt at racing’s most elite level. Many began to think that despite his lightning turn of a foot, a Group One might elude him and, it’s probably fair to point out that in at least three of those Group Ones he ran into a fairly handy mare by the name of Black Caviar.

Anyway, after breaking his Group One ‘duck’ he then won another five and recorded top four finishes in five more before it was decided to take Buffering to Dubai.

“Just being there in Dubai was an enormous buzz. Even if he hadn’t won we all would have been happy,” Lord claims. “There’s something very special about being there with an Australian horse, among your friends, at the world’s richest race program. Going into the race was just an incredible feeling.”

Many commentators had written off Buffering’s chances that night despite a Group One victory and an emphatic win on the Magic Millions program leading into the race. Maybe it was the two and a half months between. Maybe it was because they thought he was too old. Maybe they just didn’t think he was good enough.

Good enough he was though: better than good. Buffering won by a massive three and a half lengths.

The commentators were quick to eat their words and, in something like an apology, they said that both the horse’s run and, in particular, the celebration by owners, were very much of a Group One standard.

Although it was Buffering’s last win and he would retire seven months later with an incredible 20 wins and 17 placings and $7,256,458 in prizemoney, Chris will never forget that night in the desert. Nor will the thousands of Buffering fans that tuned in on TVs throughout Australia.

And Chris won’t forget the first time he saw Buffering either: “I’d gone down to the sale and fancied one of the yearlings in the catalogue. That ended up falling through and then Rob (Heathcote) pointed out to me this Mossman colt he liked.

“I thought the colt would go for too much money, but then he was knocked down for $22,000 and I told Rob I’d like to take 15% of the horse.

“Then, wouldn’t you know it, another yearling came along that I really liked so I asked Rob if I could scale back my stake in Buffering to 10% and take 5% of the other horse. I’ll never forgive Rob for saying yes!” Lord adds with a laugh.

“That horse struggled to beat home the ambulance so I think I’ve got the distinction of having part-owned both the quickest AND the slowest racehorses in Queensland.

“I’m now involved with another of Rob’s good horses in Hopfgarten (a 5-time stakes winner with earnings of nearly $700,000) but the sheer enjoyment of racing a horse like Buffering will always be very special.

“You can have some down times as an owner but the upside is just incredible. And a horse like Buffering shows you just how accessible ownership is … there were something like 20 people in Buffering, quite a few more when you taken into account that a couple of shares were syndicated, and the horse only cost $22,000.

“And look where he took us …”

Aside from the obvious attraction of Buffering’s appearance, the March Yearling Sale launch saw Racing Queensland and Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland reveal an exciting initiative to encourage first time owners, while attendees also had the opportunity to speak with trainers and syndicators at an open forum.

The 400 lot, 2 day strong March Yearling Sale commenced on Monday and will conclude on Tuesday.

Buyers might not find a Buffering this time, but there’s every chance they’ll track down a Paradis Imperial ($9,000 at last year’s sale) who won her sixth race from eight starts on Saturday, or an Upstart Pride who recorded his first stakes victory in the Listed Carbine Club of Queensland Goldmarket at the Gold Coast on Saturday too and has now won over $450,000. His asking price as a yearling … $40,000.


The Power of Passion