NZ Derby winner Puccini still in $4m feature
Peter McKay hasn't completely ruled out a start against the older horses in Sydney for New Zealand Derby winner Puccini.
The Matamata trainer has plotted an autumn carnival path toward the Group I $A2 million Australian Derby at Randwick on April 12 and has kept the option open of the Group I $A4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes at weight-for-age a week later.
Fellow New Zealand star It's A Dundeel won the three-year-old feature 12 months ago and finished runner-up to Reliable Man in the Queen Elizabeth, which was then run a fortnight later.
''It's a longshot at the moment, but we will pay the next nomination,'' McKay said.
''It's not ideal to go from 2400 metres back to 2000 and we'll assess it as we go along.
''We'll take each step as it comes and he's booked to go over on March 24 and he'll run in the Rosehill Guineas on the 29th.''
Puccini is the current Australian Derby favourite following his stellar performance to win the Group I New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie.
''He's come through the race well and had three days off afterwards,'' McKay said.
''He'll probably have a gallop tomorrow morning.''
Meanwhile, McKay and son Jacob will send two last-start winners south to Trentham this weekend for black type events.
Listed Sakhee's Secret Melbourne Racing Club Lightning Handicap contender Antonio Lombardo faces an uncertain future following his success at Matamata, his first for 17 months.
''He hadn't won for 13 starts and straight away he's topweight again,'' McKay said.
''He's only a small horse so we have to weigh up our options. If he can't compete, and I don't think he can, then we'll have to retire him.''
Stablemate Jimmy Hoffa is expected to appreciate the 2500 metre trip of the Listed Hyland Race Colours NZ St Leger after his special conditions win over 2100m at Ellerslie.
''It's a step up in class, but the extra distance will help him,'' McKay said.