Puccini gives Altomonte good reason for aria

George Altomonte, the Sydney motor dealer with a golden touch in horse breeding, could be for forgiven if he burst into song after Puccini, a colt named after an icon Italian opera composer, came from the widest alley,18, and took out the Waikato Guineas at the Te Rapa racecourse, Hamilton NZ on Saturday after leading for most of the trip.

Although Puccini was bred in New Zealand by his owners, Paul and Cusha Smithie, Monovale Farm, Cambridge, Puccini is of Australian sire parentage. He is by Coolmore’s champion Australian sire Encosta De Lago and from Miss Opera, a mare whose name obviously is derived from her sire Paris Opera, one of the earlier good performers bred by George Altomonte, owner of the Corumbene Stud at Dunedoo in central western NSW.

Bred on a cross of two Golden Slipper winning sires, Marscay over Adelette, by Baguette, Paris Opera gave this jewel of juvenile racing a shake himself, finishing second to New Zealand bred Courtza in1989. Despite the fact he was trained by Tommy Smith, ridden by Wayne Harris and had three Sydney wins, a Kindergarten second and Silver Slipper third to his credit, Paris Opera was unwanted in the Slipper, starting at 50-1.

If he had won, he would have been the first of three Slipper winners bred by Altomonte as he has since supplied the successful contestants Sebring and Overreach and also third placed Hasna.

He also has good prospects as a breeder for 2014 Blue Diamond and Slipper glory as a one of the most fancied candidates is Nayeli, a filly by More Than Ready and from the good Danehill performer Wasimah who has won both her starts, including the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. Gai Waterhouse purchased Nayeli out of the Corumbene draft at the Easter yearling sale for $260,000.

Following his campaign at two, Paris Opera ran nine times at three for one win, a Listed event at Randwick, and then went to stud in Tom Lowry’s care at the famous Okawa Stud in New Zealand.

Nine years at stud resulted in195 starters for 107 winners including eight stakes winners up to Group 2 level. One of his stakes winners is Puccini’s dam Miss Opera, a winner of six races to 1300m, including a Listed event.

Miss Opera has all her six foals to race win, two of them successful in major races, Puccini and his illustrious Volksraad half-brother Sir Slick. New Zealand’s Champion Middle Distance Horse in 2006-07, Sir Slick won 22 races, including six Group1 events.

 They had a half-brother by Zabeel in this year’s Premier catalogue at the New Zealand Sales but he was withdrawn.

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