A rousing gallop by Protectionist at Newcastle this morning has placed last year’s Melbourne Cup winner one step closer to making his 2015 Autumn Carnival debut.
The German bred and trained five year old created history with his barnstorming win in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival while under the care of top European trainer Andreas Wohler.
Protectionist was subsequently transferred to Newcastle trainer Kris Lees who has reported that the Monsun stallion is progressing nicely and is ready to have a barrier trial in ten days.
“His gallop was good and strong this morning and he’ll be ready to trial in ten days now,” Lees told Racing Network.
“I just want to see how he trials and how he comes through it before we work out what race we kick him off in.”
While Lees is still in discussions with Protectionist’s long list of owners, including the team from Australian Bloodstock, a tentative plan has been put up for consideration.
“We haven’t really settled on the exact plan, but there are a couple of options,” Lees told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“It’s very, very congested the programming this season, especially in Sydney, so we haven’t really sat down and said which way we’re going to go, but possibly he comes to Melbourne and runs in the Peter Young and the Australian Cup and then back for The BMW.
“That’s the likely scenario, but we’ll just see as we get a bit closer.”
If Lees goes ahead with a Melbourne campaign Protectionist will step out in the Group 2 $200,000 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 as his lead up to the weight for age Group 1 $1m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.
That was the same path Gai Waterhouse took with 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente who went on to win both the weight for age races before heading back to the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
After running in the Australian Cup, Lees will return to Sydney with Protectionist with a few options including the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on March 28 and the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11 also an option.
In early betting for the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au Protectionist is marked on the third line at $7.50 behind Japanese star To The World at $5 and 2014 Cox Plate winner Adelaide at $6.50.