Co-trainer Jacob McKay has revealed that Puccini will make the trip to Australia for the 2015 Australian Cup if he performs well in the Group 1 Haunui Farm Weight-For-Age Classic at Otaki next Saturday.
Puccini recorded his second win at Group 1 level when he recorded an explosive victory in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) and McKay told The New Zealand Racing Desk that the son of Encosta De Lago will earn the opportunity to return to Australia for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 if he records a second straight win at the highest level of racing in the Haunui Farm Weight-For-Age Classic.
“He’s nominated for the Australian Cup and if he happened to win or be very unlucky at Otaki then he’d go over to Melbourne for that,” McKay said.
Puccini stamped himself as a horse to watch when he finished fourth in the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Park in November of 2013 and he went on to win the Group 2 Great Northern Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 1, the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie on February 15 and the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at the same venue on March 1.
The Encosta De Lago entire was sent to Australia, but he had no luck whatsoever when 12th behind Criterion in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 29 and he did not appear to handle the heavy going in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
Puccini returned to racing with a flat first-up performance, but he returned to winning form in the Group 3 Marton Mile (1600m) at Awapuni on September 13 and he took out the Group 3 Thompson Handicap (1600m) at Trentham on October 25 before he finished second behind Shuka in the Group 1 Captain Cook Stakes (1600m).
He produced one of his worst performances of his career to date in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, but he returned to a semblance of his best form in the Group 2 Rich Mill Mile (1600m) before his impressive performance in the Thordon Mile.
Puccini could head to Sydney after running in the Australian Cup and he has been included in the nominations for both the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).