Chances are fans of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in both Melbourne and Sydney will get the opportunity to see the galloper during the autumn.
Speaking to RSN’s Racing Ahead on Tuesday, new trainer Kris Lees revealed a dual state autumn carnival is on the cards due to the congestion in the program.
Lees was adamant that while plans have not been confirmed for the five-year-old German import, it is likely that Protectionist will begin his season with a two-run campaign in Melbourne before potentially travelling to Sydney for the Group 1 BMW (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 4.
Protectionist could resume as early as next month in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 before tackling the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14. It is interesting to note this is the same path 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente took in the campaign after his victory and Protectionist may try to emulate his Melbourne Cup-Australian Cup double.
“We haven’t really settled on the exact plan, but there are a couple of options,” Lees said.
“It’s very, very congested the programming this season, especially in Sydney, so we haven’t really sat down and said which way we’re going to go, but possibly he comes to Melbourne and runs in the Peter Young and the Australian Cup and then back for The BMW.
“That’s the likely scenario, but we’ll just see as we get a bit closer.”
All three races are weight-for-age.
Protectionist delivered a fantastic win in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4 on just his second start in Australia.
The horse was beyond midfield one off the fence in the early stages but looked to peel to the outside when full of running. He switched course inside and once in the clear put a massive margin on his rivals to win by four lengths.
Following a well-deserved spell, Protectionist has begun to do some even-time work on the training track for Lees, who took over training duties from Andreas Wohler when connections decided to keep the horse in Australia for the coming seasons.
Wherever he ends up running, all eyes will be on Protectionist during the 2015 autumn carnivals. Open your Ladbrokes.com.au online betting account to receive a $250 bonus match on your first bet. Just quote code: BETBONUS.