Top class Encosta de Lago filly Costa Viva (3f Encosta de Lago x Vivacious Spirit, by Bel Esprit) failed by a neck to win the Group II Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie in New Zealand on Saturday, but her champion sire gained some consolation when his promising son Puccini (3c Encosta de Lago x Miss Opera, by Paris Opera) captured the Group II Great Northern Guineas.
A half-brother to six-time Group I winner Sir Slick, the Peter McKay trained colt improved off an unlucky fourth in the Group I New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas to take this 1600 metre feature by three-quarters of a length.
“Sir Slick took a while to win his Group Ones,” said McKay, who prepares Puccini with his son Jacob at Matamata.
“I’ve always had a lot of faith in the horse and he went a couple of nice races as a two-year-old and again this season.
“His run in the 2000 Guineas was huge and he knuckled over at the start and then came wide on the turn and he just kept coming.”
Retained to race by his breeder, Puccini has won two races and placed four times from 10 starts earning over $90,000 in prizemoney and will target major races in 2014.
“He’ll go down for the Levin Classic next and I’ll step him up to 2000 metres in the Waikato Guineas and then aim for the Derby,” McKay said.
Puccini is one of six winners from six foals to race from stakes-winning Paris Opera mare Miss Opera and is the 99th stakes-winner for champion sire Encosta de Lago, who has 18 youngsters entered for the 2014 Magic Millions.