Matamata-based New Zealand trainer Jacob McKay, who co-trains with his father Peter, has confirmed tentative plans to target the Australian Cup 2015 in Melbourne this autumn with his in-form Kiwi stallion Puccini.
The now four-year-old son of Encosta De Lago raced in Sydney last autumn on the back of some imposing form back home including his Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) victory.
He couldn’t match them down under however finishing a distant 12th after over-racing and wilting under pressure in the closing stages of the Rosehill Guineas, won by Criterion.
The same horse then beat him home by seven and a half lengths in the Australian Derby over 2400m last April when Puccini ran a below par fifth in on a Heavy (9) track that didn’t suit.
Since then back in NZ he’s been improving in form including his Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) victory by a nose on January 24.
The $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on ‘Super Saturday’, March 14, is now seriously being considered for Puccini once he returns down under in the autumn.
His true test that will determine whether the Australian Cup bid goes ahead takes place Saturday week, January 21, with the galloper to line-up in the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA 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 told the NZ Racing Desk this week.
Sixty-nine 2015 Australian Cup nominations were taken this year, early Ladbrokes.com.au markets on which are led by the reigning Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist ($5), the German stayer now prepared in Newcastle by Kris Lees.
Puccini meanwhile can be found at a juicier $34 in the futures Australian Cup odds.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au over the coming weeks for all the latest on Puccini and his autumn campaign.
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