Andreas Wohler has not taken part in a Melbourne Spring Carnival in ten years but the German trainer is back, with his eyes set on the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
Wohler previously made the trek out for the Cox Plate in both 2001 (fourth with Silvano) and 2004 (10th with Paolini) but decided to aim for the race that stops the nation this time, as it has always sparked his interest.
He’s been hesitant to commit to the race without the right horse, but the trainer has finally found him.
Protectionist, his smart galloper, will make his Australian debut on Saturday in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) as he vies for a start in the November 4th Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The five-year-old has placed in all eight of his career starts, including four wins. It was the Group Two race at Baden-Baden in June, in which Protectionist was a fast-finishing second, that put a Melbourne Cup campaign in Wohler’s mind. Back-to-back Group Two wins his last time out has only strengthened the trainer’s belief in his horse.
“[The Melbourne Cup] is something special,” Wohler said to Sky Racing.
“I haven’t been before but I have watched the race on the television.
“Australian racing is huge. To enjoy the atmosphere, it’s fantastic.”
Wohler decided the 2014 Herbert Power was a good fit for Protectionist in his Melbourne Cup preparations, as it would be an easier race than the Caulfield Cup a week later.
The horse is currently paying top odds of $4.40 in the Herbert Power Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au in the lead of rivals Signoff ($6), Bonfire and Big Memory ($7).
The trainer admitted the tight-running circuit, which Protectionist hasn’t run on before, and the horse’s topweight of 59kg are slight concerns but nothing he can’t work through.
“He’s never run on a track like Caulfield before – as tight a track and with so short a straight so he will have to accommodate that,” Wohler said.
“You always worry about the travel but he is good and we have had no setbacks with him.
“He looks well, he’s eating well and even his trackwork is fine.”
The 2014 Herbert Power Stakes is Race 7 of a 10-race Caulfield Guineas Day on Saturday.
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