2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist is edging closer to a return to the stables of trainer Kris Lees to prepare for another Spring Carnival campaign.
Protectionist was the pinup stayer of the nation when he scored a dominant win in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last November but then failed to be placed in four runs during the Autumn Carnival.
The German import’s racing future was up in the air after he was comprehensively beaten when seventh to the Chris Waller trained Grand Marshall in the Group 1 $1.6m Schweppes 150th Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11, the second day of ‘The Championships‘.
An extensive post race examination of Protectionist revealed that the five year old had gone down on all four bumpers on the rain affected track and at one stage it was feared that his racing days could be over.
But Lees has reported that Protectionist is progressing well since he was sent to the spelling paddock and has been doing plenty of work on the water walker.
“This is his third week on the water-walker and he looks well,’’ Lees told The Daily Telegraph.
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.
“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,” Lovett told racing.com.
Protectionist was under the care of German trainer Andreas Wohler when he won the Melbourne Cup but was then transferred to Lees’ Broadmeadow stables at Newcastle to be prepared for the Autumn.
Lees took Protectionist back to Melbourne and kicked off his Autumn campaign with a sixth in the Group 2 $200,000 Crown Golden Ale Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 followed by an eighth in the Group 1 $1m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.
A step up in distance to 2400m in the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW at Rosehill on March 28 saw Protectionist finish in fifth spot, just behind the placegetters, at his last run before the Sydney Cup.
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.