Protectionist has drawn midfield in the Group 2 $200,000 Crown Golden Ale Peter Young Stakes (1800m) as he prepares to launch his Autumn Carnival campaign at Caulfield on Saturday.
The 2014 Melbourne Cup winner will be having his first start for new trainer Kris Lees and has come up with barrier seven in the thirteen horse weight for age field with Craig Williams to ride.
The leading Newcastle trainer was handed the German import after top European trainer Andreas Wohler prepared him to win the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
A good performance on Saturday will see Protectionist stay in Melbourne for the Group 1 $1m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 before heading back to New South Wales for the Sydney Autumn Carnival and ‘The Championships’.
“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.”
One of Protectionist’s main rivals in the Peter Young Stakes is the triple Group 1 winner Happy Trails who has drawn beside the German import at eight with Damien Oliver to ride again.
Oliver has steered Happy Trails to two of his three Group 1 victories including his latest win in the Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller has accepted with two runners, Bagman (barrier 3) and Beaten Up (barrier 4) and both will appreciate the step up in distance to 1800m.
Bagman (12th) and Beaten Up (14th) were always back near the tail of the field and were well beaten in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 14.
The in-form Mourinho has drawn barrier six, has Vlad Duric in the saddle again and has to be considerd one of the main chances going on his two recent runs.
The Peter Gelagotis trained seven year old scored a surprise first up win in the Group 2 $200,000 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 24 before running third to Dissident in the C.F. Orr Stakes.
Jacquinot Bay is also racing in fine form and is one of two horses from the David Hayes and Tom Dabernig stable in the Peter Young Stakes.
Jacquinot Bay (Mark Zahra, barrier 10) won three on the trot before a last start second as favourite to Smokin’ Joey in the Group 3 $150,000 T S Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on February 14 while Spillway (Michael Walker, barrier 9) finished just out of the placings when fifth in C.F. Orr Stakes.
Peter Moody’s two runners have drawn at the opposite ends of the field with Lidari (Luke Nolen) coming up with the rails while Au Revoir, with Ben Melham, drawing near the outside at gate eleven.