Puccini has been backed into 2015 Villiers Stakes odds of $12, but trainer Darren Weir believes that the inconsistent galloper will need plenty of luck to win the Group 2 event at Royal Randwick tomorrow.
Puccini started his spring preparation with a 11th place finish in the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings on August 29 and he failed to fire in The Cup Club Handicap (1700m) at Caulfield on September 26 or the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at the same venue on October 10 and he was sent to the Weir stable following his flat effort in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on October 17.
The Encosta De Lago entire made his debut for the Weir stable with a gutsy second in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on November 14 and Weir told Sky Racing HQ this morning that he saw no reason not to give the five-year-old an opportunity in the 2015 Villiers Stakes.
“It is going to be a hard enough ask I would have thought,” Weir said.
“It would have been better if he had drawn a gate because he is not an easy horse to ride and he wants to get running a bit.
“Obviously he has come over from New Zealand connections to try and get a good win under his belt because he is a stallion.
“He ran really well in his first run for us at Sandown and there was nothing else around here for him, so this was the next logical step.
“We thought we would go up and have a go and he is in great order.”
While Puccini has been a market mover in 2015 Villiers Stakes betting markets, Happy Clapper remains a dominant favourite and is currently available at a quote of $4.60 to record the biggest win of his racing career to date.
Happy Clapper started his summer preparation with a victory in the Road Tech Marine Handicap (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 24 and he stamped himself as Villiers Stakes favourite with a strong win carrying 60.5 kilograms in the Bedford Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 28.
There has been a sprinkling of support in the 2015 Villiers Stakes betting market with Ladbrokes for Tinto ($31 into $26) and Zanbagh ($15 into $13), while Ninth Legion ($26 out to $34), Red Excitement ($19 out to $21), Pheidon ($71 out to $81), Keepit To Yourself ($126 out to $151) and Dream Folk ($126 out to $151).