Protectionist has opened at 2015 The BMW odds of $9, but trainer Kris Lees is confident that the 2014 Melbourne Cup winner will be more competitive when he contests the Group 1 event at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Protectionist was extremely well-backed in the lead-up to the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28, but he was never able to get into the race and finished sixth before he produced another flat effort in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.
Lees told Racing Ahead that Protectionist has taken plenty of benefit out of his two runs in Melbourne this preparation and he believes that the Monsun entire is ready to produce an improved performance in The BMW this weekend.
“He has come on really well of the back of his two runs in Melbourne,” Lees said.
“He never got into those races, but they were run at good tempo and it gave him a really good foundation for his next two runs.
“He did very easy work on the course proper in even time and he appears in good order.
“He had a good blow-out last Saturday and it was probably the best that he has worked since he has been in my care.
“I am expecting him to be a lot more competitive than what he has been in his two Melbourne runs.”
Protectionist was allocated the outside gate when the 2015 The BMW final field and barrier draw was released on Wednesday and Lees admits that jockey Craig Williams will be forced to settle the five-year-old near the tail of the field, but he is hopeful that the building tempo expected in the race will suit the Melbourne Cup winner and allow him to get into the finish.
“He is going to be back in the field and there doesn’t appear to be a great amount of pressure,” Lees said.
“Fast Dragon went along in the Ranvet midrace, but I think that it should just be a nice, building pressure which should suit him.
“The 12 alley can be a bit tricky and we will be back in the last three or four and it depends on how the race will unfold from there.”
Protectionist has drifted out to The BMW odds of $10 with Ladbrokes, while Japanese galloper To The World ($2.60) is a clear favourite from Hartnell ($3.60) and Lucia Valentina ($9).