Trainer Peter McKay is confident that Puccini is the right type of horse for the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) that will be held at Moonee Valley during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
McKay revealed in June that Puccini will be included in the nominations for both the Cox Plate and Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), but he believes that the Australasian Weight-For-Age Championship at Moonee Valley could be the ideal race for the Encosta De Lago colt.
The leading New Zealand trainer told Trackside that Puccini has similar attributes to many horses that have won the Cox Plate in the past and he feels that there is no reason why the rising four-year-old would not be competitive in the Group 1 event.
“A lot of the horses that have won the Cox Plate generally race on the speed, you have to have good speed up near the lead and keep kicking at the finish,” McKay said.
“Some people say that it is a hard race to win from the lead, but the last ten years there have been a lot of horses that have led and run or been right up near the lead.
“He has that sort of ability; he can use a bit of speed early and he is very strong at the finish.”
Puccini won the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie in March and went into the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival with plenty of expectations, but finished a disappointing 12th in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 29 before returning to a semblance of his best form in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
McKay believes that Puccini had excuses in both of his race starts to date and he remains confident that the talented entire is good enough to compete at the highest level of racing in Australia.
“It was hard going over there at the end of the prep, but I still feel that he was well enough in himself if the tracks had been right,” McKay said.
“His first run over there he jumped out and took on the leader and undone himself.
“I was ready to bring him home, but he just kept thriving on it.
“The Derby over there was a huge run, Craig Williams said that he travelled up really nice to the corner and when he let him go he couldn’t lengthen in the ground.
“Rising Romance has gone over there and shown what she is capable of and he has raced against her twice and beaten her twice.
“He has the ability.”
Puccini is currently available at a quote of $34 In the 2014 Cox Plate betting market with Ladbrokes Australia and is 2014 Caulfield Cup odds of $26.