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A host of international 2014 Melbourne Cup contenders were revealed over the weekend including overnight in France with Protectionist easily winning the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay.
The Group 2 race at Deauville over 3000m has served as a telling Melbourne Cup form guide over recent years and could do so again this spring when the $6.2 million Group 1 classic is held over the 3200m in Victorian on November 4.
Earning talks of a trip down under to target the famous Flemington Race 7 with his Prix Kergorlay success was Monsun stallion Protectionist.
The young Andreas Wohler-trained German stayer secured his fourth win at career start number eight and his second on the trot following an earlier win back home in Germany in the Group 2 Hansa-Preis (2413m) on June 29.
It was an easy kill for Protectionist at the Normandy track with just four runners lining up at jump time.
Settling in third with Panamanian jockey Eduardo Pedroza in the saddle, the eventual winner was joined in the field by his Christophe Soumillion-ridden stablemate Altano.
But it was all Protectionist over the final 300m as he flew past his three rivals and won by a length and a half over Group 2 Prix Vicomtesse Vigier (3100m) winner Fly With Me.
The Prix Kergorlay was his first start outside of Germany and also his first look at the distance after going up to the mile and a half last start for the Group 2 win.
While his promising galloper hasn’t been tested too far aboard as yet, the Gutersloh-based Wohler is no success to international success.
He has prepared winners of the Arlington Million in the USA, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong as well as in Dubai and is now keen to add Australia to his hit list.
Wohler also bought Altano down under back in 2011 for a Cox Plate bid, that galloper unplaced in the Pirx Kergorlay behind Protectionist.
“It wasn’t really a staying race as they didn’t go much pace and Altano isn’t a horse who really wants to lead,” Wohler told Racing Victoria.
“I was pleased with both of them and Protectionist will be going to Australia.”
Protectionist is yet to be added to the futures Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au but is rated a $26 chance for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday October 18.
He was named as one of the 44 internationally-trained horses featuring in the 221 official Caulfield Cup nominations taken at the start of the month.
However the Melbourne Cup is the more likely target now according to Wohler.
“We’re thinking more of the Melbourne Cup than the Caulfield Cup – Caulfield is a very early entry stage so we just put him in,” he said.
“We’ll get him down there and he’ll have a prep-race in Australia, I should think in one of the other Cup races.”
The form is certainly strong based on his Prix Kergorlay win too, the race having produced the first French-trained Melbourne Cup winner in history four years ago in the Australian-owned Americain.
The 2011 Prix Kergorlay also played a strong hand in the Melbourne Cup result that year when subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Duanden and runner-up Red Cadeaux both graduated from the French race.
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