Australian Bloodstock Director Jamie Lovett has confirmed that Craig Williams will ride Protectionist when he returns to racing in the 2015 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield on February 28.
The ride on Protectionist for the autumn has been the most hotly contested mount in recent years and almost every leading jockey in Australia as well as leading British hoop Ryan Moore has been linked with the ride.
Hugh Bowman made the trip to Newcastle to partner Protectionist in a barrier trial at Newcastle earlier this week and steered the Melbourne Cup winner to a comfortable victory, but Australian Bloodstock have elected to go with a Melbourne-based jockey in the form of Williams.
Williams rode Protectionist when he finished fourth behind Big Memory in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 11 before Moore took over the ride for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and the leading Melbourne hoop said that he is delighted to receive another opportunity to partner the world class stayer.
“It is great to be back on him for sure and I’m delighted to get the call up,” Williams said.
“I just want to get the right result for the horse and the owners.”
Trainer Kris Lees revealed earlier this week that Protectionist would likely head to the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 after running in the Peter Young Stakes, but Lovett told TVN that there was still a chance the five-year-old would be stepped up to 2400 metres for the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28 depending on his performance in the Peter Young Stakes.
“If he charges to the line in the Peter Young and we think he’s going to be effective at 2000 (metres) then we will go into the Australian Cup, but if we think he’s looking for a trip we will back off and probably go to a BMW,” Lovett said.
Williams is chasing his first win in the Peter Young Stakes after finishing third with Vroom Vroom in 2006 and missing the placings with Green Moon (fourth in 2014), Mawingo (fourth in 2013), Southern Speed (fifth in 2012), Moudre (eighth in 2011), Littorio (fourth in 2010), Growl (fifth in 2009), Seafarer (fourth in 2008) and Gallant Guru (ninth in 2007).
Protectionist is currently available at 2015 Australian Cup odds of $5 with Ladbrokes and is a clear favourite from Happy Trails ($10), Contributer ($11) and He’s Your Man ($13).