German import Protectionist will have to perform well in Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield if trainer Kris Lees is to confirm a start in the Australian Cup in a fortnight.
“This race will give us an idea of what to do in the future,” Lees told the Herald Sun.
“If he runs well enough, we will stay in Melbourne for the Australian Cup.”
Protectionist’s best performances have been over 2200m and further and he proved to be the superior stayer in scoring a runaway win in last year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington.
With that in mind Lees has some concerns about heading to the Group 1 WFA $1m Australian Cup over 2000m at Flemington.
“He has raced over a mile (1600m) in his debut maiden win and then ran over 1700m for a second (both in Germany), but 2000m is the shortest journey he has raced since,” Lees said.
Lees has given Protectionist plenty of work and one barrier trial in the lead up for his return to the racetrack and was impressed with his win over 1200m at Newcastle on February 2.
“He is forward enough, but it is just a matter of whether he is sharp enough,” Lees said.
“He has had one go there (Caulfield) and he was good over a mile and a half (fourth in the Herbert Power) but he stumbled around the bend.”
Protectionist was prepared for the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival by top German trainer Andreas Wohler who also gave him a lead up run in the Group 2 $200,000 Sportingbet Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield when he finished fourth to Big Memory.
Top Melbourne jockey Craig Williams was aboard the Monsun five year old in the Herbert Power Stakes and will have the mount again in the Peter Young Stakes.
Protectionist currently heads the market order for the Australian Cup at $4.50 ahead of Happy Trials at $7 and Contributer at $8.
Protectionist will be meeting Happy Trails in the Peter Young Stakes for the first time and the result of their clash will determine which galloper will be at the top of the Australian Cup market order next week.