There has been very little support for Protectionist in 2015 Caulfield Cup betting and trainer Kris Lees admits that he does not rate the defending Melbourne Cup winner as a genuine chance in the Group 1 event at Caulfield on Saturday.
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) last year, but he has been unable to replicate that form and has failed to record a win since.
The Monsun entire started his 2015 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a flat effort over a highly unsuitable distance in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 5 and he failed to flatter in both the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at the same venue on September 19 and the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 4.
The 2400 metres of the Caulfield Cup is still well short of Protectionist’s best and Lees believes that Protectionist will need there to be plenty of early speed to be any chance whatsoever, but he told Sky Racing HQ that he would still like to see the imported galloper hit the line strongly as he builds towards the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
“He wouldn’t turn up in a Caulfield Cup unless they went at breakneck speed, but this will top him off nice for the Melbourne Cup,” Lees said.
“He is running in races that aren’t suitable for him over distances that are short of his best, but he still needs to step-up a bit in the Caulfield Cup.
“I just want to see him work up in a Caulfield Cup and give us some confidence heading towards the Melbourne Cup.”
While Protectionist’s Caulfield Cup lead-up form reads very poorly on paper, Lees is still satisfied with the physical condition of the Australian Bloodstock-owned stayer and he was pleased with the way that he performed in his final serious piece of track work yesterday.
“It look a little bit out of him on the firm ground, but he seems ok,” Lees said.
“I have just been mixing his work up a bit.
“He did a bit of work on the sand and then he went out on the course proper for a sharper gallop.
“He looked really well and his rider indicated that it is the best he felt since the Turnbull Stakes.”
Protectionist has remained steady at 2015 Caulfield Cup odds of $41 with Ladbrokes and could start at even longer odds on Saturday afternoon.
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