Trainer Kris Lees has confirmed that Protectionist will return to the races in the 2015 Chelmsford Stakes after he performed well in an exhibition gallop at Newcastle yesterday.
Protectionist was making his first public appearance since he finished seventh in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 11 and he worked over 800 metres alongside stablemate Olympic Academy at the Broadmeadows between races 2 and 3 yesterday.
The 2014 Melbourne Cup entire suffered from serious bone bruising during his autumn campaign, but Lees said that he was happy with the physical condition of Protectionist at this stage of his preparation and he told Sky Racing that he would have a barrier trial at Newcastle on Monday before kicking-off in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 5.
“We just wanted to bring him out for a day out,” Lees said.
“He is only going to have one trial, so we thought that we would bring him to a race day environment.
“They worked home their last 600 in a tick over 38, which is all I wanted him to do and I am pretty happy with where he is at this preparation.
“Physically he seems fine and after every gallop we are very cautious.
“At this stage he appears a happier horse, but the proof will be in the pudding and I am not going to get ahead of myself at this stage.
“He will resume in the Chelmsford on the fifth and we have a few options after that, but he will definitely resume there.
“He will trial next Monday here at Newcastle.”
Protectionist stamped himself as one of the best stayers in the world when he recorded a dominate four lengths victory in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) last year, but he was unable to replicate that form in the autumn.
He started his autumn preparation with flat performances in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 and the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 before he produced an improved performance in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28, but he was clearly not a happy horse when he finished seventh in the Sydney Cup and he was found with severe bone bruising after the race.
Protectionist has been included in the nominations for the Melbourne Cup, Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and he is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $21 with Ladbrokes.