Buffalo River chases first G1 in Cantala Stakes

A decision made to bypass a third run in as many weeks has led to a start for Buffalo River on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

And that decision may also prolong the campaign of the US-bred son of Noble Mission after Buffalo River runs in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.

After running second at Caulfield on October 9 and then winning the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield the following week, Buffalo River was scheduled to run in the Group 2 Schweppes Crystal Mile (1600m) at The Valley last week.

Trainer Mick Moroney has been looking ahead in the calendar and found the $500,000 Listed Cranbourne Cup (1600m) on November 13 may be a suitable option for Buffalo River.

And when the track came up a little drier than first thought at The Valley, the Moroney stable elected to scratch to concentrate on Saturday’s race along with the Cranbourne Cup.

“We thought if the track was heavy, we would take our chance,” Moroney said.

“Whereas going to the Cantala this week then there’s the possibility of the Cranbourne Cup as well.

“It gives us the chance to run him in two more races because if we went to Moonee Valley on a heavy track, that may have been it.”

Moroney said the handicap conditions of Saturday’s race were also more favourable than the weight-for-age conditions at The Valley.

With in-form Linda Meech to ride, Moroney said Buffalo River, from barrier four, does not have to lead on Saturday.

Buffalo River led in the Cantala Stakes last year before dropping out to beat one runner home.

“Riodini is a leader as well so we’re not against taking a sit,” Moroney said.

“When Ollie (Damien Oliver) rode him two starts ago he was willing to take a sit that day, but from the draw he was going to be three-wide without cover, so he had to soldier on and lead.

“I can see him getting a nice sit from the draw.

“I know it’s a Group 1 race and they’re hard to win, but he wasn’t far off in the Toorak last year.

“We’re hoping that he can, and we think he’s improved a bit again.”

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