2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist is on track to start his autumn campaign in the 2015 Peter Young Stakes after recording a comfortable win in a barrier trial at Newcastle this morning.
Protectionist contested the opening barrier trial of the morning over 1200 metres and he was settled at the tail of the field by jockey Hugh Bowman in the early stages of the trial before he tracked up his rivals coming around the final turn without being asked for an effort.
The Monsun entire responded well when asked for an extra effort by Bowman and he pulled clear of his rivals before being eased down on the line to record a comfortable win from stablemates Sommernachtstraum and Smokin Snitzel.
Trainer Kris Lees told Sky Racing this morning that he was more than happy with the barrier trial of Protectionist and he said that the imported stayer received a glowing review from Bowman at the conclusion of the trial.
“He didn’t have long off and we kept him in light work the whole way through,” Lees said.
“He is probably 15 kilos heavier than what he raced in the Melbourne Cup and he was out the back in the trial and made good ground from the 600 to the 150 and Hughie gave him an easy time from there.
“He won the trial and it was a nice enough trial and he had a really good blow after it.
“He (Bowman) said that he gave him a really good feel and he just coasted to the line.”
Lees revealed last month that Protectionist would likely start his autumn campaign in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 before progressing to the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 and he confirmed that was still the most likely option for the five-year-old.
Whether he is able to produce his best from over 2000 metres will then dictate what race he contests in Sydney; with the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on April 11 both on the agenda for talented stayer.
“I think that three or possibly four (starts), but I think three will be enough,” Lees said.
“We haven’t really locked it in, but we are looking at something like the Peter Young into the Australian Cup and if he reacts well enough to the shorter course we may go to the Queen Elizabeth or we have the option of The BMW.
“I doubt that he would run in all four though.
“He had a pretty good sprint in his legs at his last start and I don’t expect that to change too much.
“It is just now whether he can react to the shorter trips and I think that he will kept a little bit on the fresh side.”
Protectionist is currently available at 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes odds of $7.50 with Ladbrokes Australia.