Trainer Kris Lees has revealed that he is giving 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist a European style spell before he returns to work to being preparations for the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Protectionist was given a quiet week following his outstanding four lengths victory in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 4, but Lees has opted against giving the German import a typical break away from racing.
Horses in Europe are generally not given stints in the spelling paddock and remain in work all year round and Lees told TVN that he is following a similar principle with Protectionist as he does not want to throw the Monsun entire out of what has proven an extremely successful routine.
“He’s not having a spell as we would call it, but they do things differently in Europe and I don’t want to change too much with him,” Lees said.
“He’s doing light exercise at the farm and he seems to be enjoying it.
“He’ll have about four weeks of this before we bring him back and get him ready for the autumn.”
Lees is yet to decide on an exact 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign for Protectionist, but the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick during The Championships looms as the most likely option for the Melbourne Cup winner before he returns to Europe for a tilt at the 2015 Royal Ascot meeting.
Lucia Valentina finished 13th behind Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup and Lees said that the Savabeel mare had been sent for a traditional Australian style stint in the spelling paddock.
The talented four-year-old did not appear to run out the trip strongly in the Melbourne Cup and Lees plans on setting the two-time Group 1 winner for the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) during her autumn campaign.
“She went straight to the paddock (after running in the Melbourne Cup) and is having a break now before she too comes back for the autumn,” Lees said.
Lucia Valentina has been placed over 2400 metres on two occasions, running home strongly to finish third in both the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) and Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), but has recorded her two Group 1 victories over 2000 metres after taking out both the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).