Trainer Kris Lees believes that the tempo of the 2015 Peter Young Stakes will dictate the chances of Protectionist in the Group 2 event at Caulfield this afternoon.
Protectionist stamped himself as one of the best stayers in the world when he recorded a dominant win in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington, but he will be having just his second race start at a distance shorter than 2000 metres.
Lees told Racing Ahead this morning that he is still unsure how Protectionist will handle the drop back in trip to 1800 metres and he believes that the Monsun entire will need some luck in running to start his 2015 Melbourne Festival Of Racing campaign with a victory.
“I am still a bit guarded,” Lees said.
“How the race is run will have a big baring and if is a slow run race and they sprint from the 600 he will be found a bit wanting I think.
“If he is able to get that building tempo and a bit of clear running I think that he will be effective.
“I am interested to see how he reacts.
“It appears a perfect draw in the middle of the field to give him options and there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of pressure.
“You have a couple of horses that are fitter than he is.
“Regardless of where he finishes I want to see him strong through the line.
“I think that he is pretty well-found in the market and I would be a little guarded from a betting perspective.”
While Lees is wary about Protectionist’s chances in the Peter Young Stakes, he is happy with the condition of the imported stayer heading into his racing return and is thrilled with the way he has settled in at Caulfield.
Lees said that Protectionist has been a pretty easy horse to train since he joined his stable following his memorable Melbourne Cup victory, but revealed that he is yet to fully test the German galloper in trackwork.
“He is well within himself and he has taken the trip down in his stride,” Lees said.
“He has settled in quite well and he is in pretty good order.
“He might have lost a few kilos, but he put it back on and he will go to the races about 10 kilos heavier than what he did in the Melbourne Cup, which for a first-up run is where you would want him to be.
“He has a good nature and he hasn’t got that real turn-of-foot under our training, but he is a horse that you see him build up in his work.
“I haven’t put a lot of pressure on him, but he has done a lot of long, slow work.”
Protectionist is currently available at 2015 Peter Young Stakes odds of $3.80 with Ladbrokes and is a clear favourite from Happy Trails ($5.50), Spillway ($6.50), Mourinho ($6.50) and Real Love ($9).