Buffalo River

Buffalo River (Image: Racing Photos)

Globetrotting Buffalo faces Flemington test

Second chances are rarely offered in the competitive pursuit of purchasing quality racehorses but thankfully for Michael Moroney it was in the case of Buffalo River.

Moroney's brother, Paul, is a world-renowned bloodstock agent who had spotted Buffalo River in the United States at the 2017 Keeneland September yearling sale.

"Paul rang me from America, we'd bought a couple of horses the year before at Kentucky, and he said, 'I know you are not buying but there's a horse you should be buying and I don't think he's going to make the right sort of money'," Moroney recalled.

Paul Moroney, reluctantly, kept his hands in his pockets as Buffalo River was passed in for around US$70,000 (A$100,000), shy of his US$85,000 (A$122,000) reserve price.

Buffalo River would reappear at auction 13 months later, 6430km away from Kentucky at the 2018 Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training Sale - a tried-horse sale now annually pillaged by Australian owners.

The son of Noble Mission had raced four times for trainer John Gosden, winning once and finishing in the minor placings on the other three occasions.

One of those placings was a third behind Royal Marine, who won a Group 1 race at his next start, before finishing fourth to Skardu, who subsequently ran third in the G1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, at his first European run of 2019. The runner-up was Turgenev, the horse who almost provided Frankie Dettori with five-consecutive Royal Ascot winners on June 20 when second in the Britannia Stakes.

"He'd run on reasonable tracks so they must have thought a bit of him," Moroney said.

"We did a bit of homework on him and what we got back was that the horse was pretty hard going and that he wanted gelding badly and was a bit immature but had shown that much talent they decided to run him as a two-year-old, even though he wasn't really bred to make a two-year-old.

"So that's why we decided that even if he's going to be a bit difficult and need gelding that we'd still buy him."

Paul Moroney purchased Buffalo River on behalf of his brother for 180,000 guineas (approximately A$358,000).

Whilst the delay in purchasing Buffalo River has effectively been the difference of A$235,000, Michael Moroney feels the horse has been still bought 'under the odds'.

"Horses of his quality can be pretty expensive," Moroney said.

"I ran into John Gosden at the Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast in January and mentioned the horse to him.

"John said that the horse had ability and that we'd done the right thing by gelding him and if taught to rate himself would be a nice horse."

Buffalo River, after completing the 16,830km journey from Newmarket to Melbourne, has wasted little time in making a positive impression in Australia and collecting $93,500 in prizemoney.

Buffalo River won his local debut, a Benchmark 70 handicap (1400m) at Ballarat on May 22, when firming from $9.50 into $3.60. 

Buffalo River faces the toughest test of his Australian stint, carrying topweight of 60kg, but again conceding half a kilo to Asgard Massif as per their last clash, in Saturday's $135,000 Silver Bowl Series Final (1600m) for three-year-olds.

Should Buffalo River produce another positive performance, freshening him for Melbourne's Spring Carnival or even targeting the inaugural $7.5m Golden Eagle (1500m) for four-year-olds at Rosehill on November 2 may prove irresistible.

"This race (the Silver Bowl Final) is going to tell us a bit. He's still a baby and still only three. Really, in another six months' time he'll have caught up (in maturity) whereas now he's a little bit behind the eight ball," Moroney added.

Damien Oliver will continue his association with Buffalo River in the Silver Bowl Final while also riding stablemates and fellow last-start winners Mr Marathon Man in the $160,000 Listed VRC-CRV Winter Championship Final (1600m) and Milwaukee in the $160,000 Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m).