Rejuvenated galloper The Buffer extended his run of winning form when he galloped his rivals into submission at Kumara to carry an emotional Kelsey Hannan to a milestone victory in her fledgling career.
The Kenny Rae and Krystal Williams-trained six-year-old made all the running in the time-honoured Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts Kumara Gold Nuggets (1810m) for his seventh career victory and fifth from his last seven appearances.
The Buffer then finished third in the Listed Timaru Cup (1600m) before triumphing in the Nuggets.
“He used to run a lot of seconds and thirds and was the class clown and thought racing was a joke. Since we gave him a break he's come back and he's put it all together,” Rae said.
The Buffer was ridden with purpose from the gates by Hannan to take control of the race and travelled comfortably before increasing the tempo 500m from home and they sailed home unchallenged by 2.3l.
The Buffer provided his Waikato-based rider with the 50th victory of her career and the occasion wasn't lost on Hannan with tears flowing on her return to the birdcage.
The 19-year-old is apprenticed to Shaun Phelan after starting out with Rae and earlier in the day she had also combined with her former boss to win the Pat Fitzgerald Memorial (1100m) aboard Follow Your Dreams.
“Kelsey started off with me when Follow Your Dreams was a two-year-old and he was her favourite horse,” Rae said.
“There weren't enough horses at Ruakaka for her and she was always going to leave and went on very amicable terms. I just got her started and she's like one of the family.”
The Nuggets victory was also one to savour for The Buffer's major owner Richard Bishop, who had to be patient to realise his dream.
“He's in his eighties and told me two years ago that he wanted to win this race and I said back then he's not good enough yet,” Rae said.
“He's one of those lucky owners and every horse he touches seems to go alright. The first horse he had was Prom Queen.”
The daughter of Super Easy won nine races from Rae's stable, including two at Group Three level and a brace of Listed events.
The Buffer will now be sent to the paddock while Rae mulls over future targets.
“He's definitely going for a break and it may be two, three or four weeks,” he said.
“Now he is going to be up in the weights, we might have a shot at the Canterbury Gold Cup (Group 3, 2000m) in May or I could give him a shorter spell and look at the White Robe Lodge Stakes (Group 3, 1600m).
“That might be a bit out of his class, but he's going so well.”.