The Robert Heathcote-trained Buffering will start clear favourite for Saturday’s Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot WA, with punters backing the six-year-old to claim his third Group one crown this spring, says Betfair’s Alan Eskander. After winning the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley and the VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington, Buffering opened the $3.30 favourite last week and has been well backed into $2.40.

“Buffering is the favourite with the punters currently,” Eskander told PPD. “He’s been well backed from $3.30 into $2.40 with several large bets coming through over the past 48 hours. We’re happy with him at his current quote so I don’t expect he will firm much more on Saturday.

“It is very hard to knock a gelding that’s coming off victories in the Manikato and VRC Sprint but there is a small query that he has had a very easy time of things in front at his last two.  Local star Barakey will no doubt push up and keep him honest in this and that might make him vulnerable over the last 50 metres.”

“Outside of Buffering, there hasn’t been much betting action although defending Winterbottom Stakes champion, Barakey, has firmed slightly.

“There’s also been a bit of money around for Barakey and in turn he’s shortened from $4.60 into $4.40...He’s the local star back to defend his title and from barrier two you would expect him to hold out Buffering for the lead and could be in it for a long way.”

Moment of Change is third in betting at $6.50, while Spirit of Boom is an $8 chance to win the first of the two Group one races at Ascot on Saturday. (