Trainer Kris Lees has confirmed that imported stayer Protectionist is still a chance to defend his title in the 2015 Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 3.
Protectionist went down on all four bumpers when he finished seventh behind Grand Marshal in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 11 and came out of the race in a great deal of pain and with severe bruising, but Scintigraphy scans revealed that the talented stayer had not done any damage to his joints or tendons.
Lees told Racing Ahead this morning that Protectionist was currently enjoying a stint in the spelling paddock and the Newcastle-based trainer said that the Monsun entire would reenter light work within the next month before a decision is made on whether he will be given a 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign that will be centered around another tilt at the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“I was speaking to Harry Mitchell (Yarraman Park owner) this morning,” Lees said.
“He is up at Yarraman Park and he will do another ten days up there.
“After that he will do three or four weeks on the water walker and then it will be reassessed.
“Fingers crossed that he will be right for the spring.
“He did that in the Sydney Cup and there had to be a problem.
“After the Sydney Cup we did some Scintigraphy and we had to wait 24 hours for the x-rays, so we were prepared for a lot worse than what the x-rays showed, so that was a positive.”
Protectionist stamped himself as one of the best stayers in the world when he recorded a dominant four lengths victory in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), but he was unable to replicate that sort of form during his autumn campaign.
The imported made some ground late to finish sixth in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28, but he was never able to get into the race when eighth in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m).
A step-up in trip to 2400 metres did not help when he finished fifth in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) and he was clearly not at his best in the Sydney Cup.
Protectionist is currently available at 2015 Melbourne Cup odds of $21 and he is on the third line of betting with Ladbrokes behind Fame Game ($15) and Hartnell ($17).