High profile stayer Protectionist has been cleared of any major injury and will be set for another Melbourne Cup campaign in the Spring.
The German import was the star of the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival with his runaway win in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington while under the care top European trainer Andreas Wohler.
The five year old stallion has since failed to run a place from four starts for new trainer, Newcastle based Kris Lees, and grave concerns were held for his future when he was beaten sixteen lengths when seventh to Grand Marshall in the Group 1 $1.6m Schweppes 150th Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11, Day Two of ‘The Championships’.
Protectionist pulled up in a distressed state with cuts to all four of his bumpers located at the back his fetlock joints and he was subsequently sent to the Randwick Equine Centre to undergo extensive tests to locate the reason for his failure.
Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock who were responsible for bringing Protectionist to Australia, was relieved to be told that nothing major was wrong with the Monsun stallion and immediately pencilled in another shot at the 2015 $6m Melbourne Cup.
“We’ve been holding our breath for the last few days, it’s a bit of a relief more than anything,” Lovett told racing.com.
“I’ve watched the vision of it (the Sydney Cup) 100 times and it looks like he’s put his foot in a hole and hyper-extended that knee.
“I’ve never seen a horse go down on all four bumpers, so he’s been lucky.
“He’s got severe bruising around the knee, which is why he’s so sore.
“The prognosis is for a bit of rest and we’re back on track.”
Lovett said that Protectionist’s action was back to normal and he would be heading back to the spelling paddock for a short break before being prepared for the Spring Carnival.
“He trotted up sound this morning at Randwick Equine, he’s a bit sour – he’s just cranky,” Lovett said.
“We’ll get him out of there in the next 24 hours and he’ll go up to Ellalong Farm at Kris’ place and he’ll get some paddock rest, but we won’t let him get too big on us.”
“Now we’ve got a sound horse, we’ll get him happy again and bring him back into work slowly with the main goal of the Melbourne Cup.”
One good thing to come out of Protectionist’s poor performances during the Autumn is that he won’t be excessively penalised for this year’s Melbourne Cup after carrying 56.5kg to victory in 2014.
Protectionist’s other Autumn Carnival runs resulted in a sixth in the Group 2 $200,000 Crown Golden Ale Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield, an eighth in the Group 1 $1m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington and a fifth in the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill.
Early Melbourne Cup markets at Ladbrokes.com.au has Protectionist sharing the third line of betting at $21 with the Autumn Carnival weight for age star Contributer and the Darren Weir trained Signoff.
Japanese stayer Fame Dame heads the betting at $15 just ahead of The BMW winner Hartnell at $17.