New Zealand Derby winner Puccini will make his Australian racing debut in the 2014 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday and trainer Peter McKay has revealed that he will be leaving the riding instructions up to jockey Michael Walker.
Puccini has shown plenty of versatility throughout his racing career, leading all the way to win the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) before coming from the tail of the field in his Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) win, and McKay told Sky Racing HQ that they will not go into the Rosehill Guineas with a set plan for the son of Encosta De Lago.
“He virtually walked out of the gates and they put a bit of speed on early and crossed him,” McKay said of Puccini in the New Zealand Derby.
“He was well back and it had me very worried and down the back straight he started to pull a little.
“Michael decided that he may as well let him roll around them and he has done it with ease, which is good, and he still had plenty left around the corner.
“It was a very good run and it just shows that we don’t have to come here with one plan in mind.
“I know with this race that there could be a bit of pace on early, with Shamus Award, and we are going to have to go in with a bit of an open mind and work the race out as it goes.
“We will see how the race unfolds and if they slacken off at any stage he will just roll forward.”
Puccini has not had a lengthy stint in the spelling paddock since he started his three-year-old season in August of last year and has had four starts this year; finishing fourth in the Group 1 Ocean Park Levin Classic (1600m) before winning the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m), Avondale Guineas and New Zealand Derby.
McKay believes that Puccini has improved the further that he has got into his preparation and is confident that the colt still has plenty left in him for both the Rosehill Guineas this weekend and the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
“He has improved as the season has gone on; he may have had nine or ten starts this season, but he has actually improved in condition coming into the Derby and even more since the Derby.
“He has really thrived on it, so hopefully we can get at least two more runs out of him.”
Puccini ($4) is currently favourite in 2014 Rosehill Guineas betting markets from Cox Plate winner Shamus Award ($4.60) and Royal Randwick Guineas winner Dissident ($7).