Having suffered nasty bone bruising when seventh in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on Day 2 of The Championships, trainer Kris Lees is hopeful he will be cleared by vets to step-up Protectionist’s training regime ahead of his Spring Carnival campaign.
Protectionist announced himself to the Australian racing community with a convincing win in the 2014 Melbourne Cup, but failed to make anything of an impact in his first preparation for Lees through the recent Sydney Autumn Carnival; finishing mid-pack in each of his four starts.
Revealing the talented son of Monsun has already returned to light duties, Lees told Racing Ahead that every precaution will be taken with Protectionist to ensure full fitness for the Spring Carnival.
“He seems well, it’s still early days,” Lees said.
“He’s probably into his fourth week now – he’s done some light work on the water-walker and treadmill at our farm and he’s been back at Broadmeadow now for three days and he’s trotting and cantering.
“He’ll go down for reassessment to Randwick Equine early next week and after that hopefully he gets the all-clear and we’ll start increasing his workload.
“He’s quite sound under saddle, so I’m expecting business as usual.”
Confirming a defence of his Melbourne Cup crown remains the major target, Lees said Protectionist will likely resume in a Sydney metropolitan event but has not thrown any option off the table.
“I’d prefer to keep his races more spaced than what we did in the autumn,” Lees said.
“I think the horse prefers that little bit of gap between runs, which was obvious with his Spring campaign.
“We still haven’t settled on a confirmed plan yet.
“He may start off in NSW with a race like the Chelmsford Stakes or come straight to Victoria.”
Protectionist remains tied on the third line of 2015 Melbourne Cup betting at a quote of $21 with Ladbrokes.