Four-year-old horse Puccini will run in the Listed Golden Mile (1600m) at Bendigo this Saturday, just seven days after he contested the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.
Puccini finished five and a half lengths behind winner Spillway in 11th place and while trainer Peter McKay originally took the result as an indicator he should send the horse to the spelling paddock, he changed his mind after seeing how well he came through the $1 million race.
McKay has a new reasoning for why Puccini fell out of the race in the final 200 metres and it has to do with the distance.
“Initially the thought was to put him on a plane and bring him home, because I thought he’d had enough,” McKay told Racing Victoria.
“But he’s bright and well and I’m starting to wonder whether he just doesn’t quite get 2000 (metres).
“At the 400 (last week) he looked good but the last 200 he just paddled. I’m just putting it down to him not getting 2000 now.”
Puccini has had three starts over 2000 metres as a four-year-old, including the Group 1 Ormond Memorial (2040m) and Group 1 Zabeel Classic (2000m), both of which were in New Zealand, all three of which he has failed to place in.
This is a far cry from the three-year-old who dominated the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) field last March to win by two lengths but McKay is ready to run him over a mile in the 2015 Golden Mile.
Puccini was one of 18 runners in last year’s New Zealand Derby. The horse had an average start, fourth last the inner lap out with 1600m to go, but angled out aggressively at 1500m to improve deep (with cover) mid race. He was sent up wider with 1000m to go, was outside the leader at 800m, challenged the top and took over the lead at 450m before striding clear and home at 200m.
36 horses are nominated for the Golden Mile, for which Puccini is the headliner. The four-year-old horse will carry the topweight of 60kg, just half a kilogram ahead of David Hayes & Tom Dabernig’s Guest Of Honour, one of five horses nominated by the training duo.
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