It’ll be a day of firsts for former German raider Protectionist at Caulfield this Saturday as the five-year-old resumes in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m).
After brilliantly winning the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) back in November, it’ll be the first time the horse runs under the care of new trainer Kris Lees as he kicks off his autumn campaign.
Racing fans and punters alike will be keen to see if Protectionist can bring the form that won him the $6.2 million race that stops the nation by four lengths into the autumn. They got their first taste earlier this month in a 1200 metre barrier trial at Cranbourne, in which the horse displayed a nice turn of foot.
Protectionist enjoyed another workout at his home base of Newcastle on the weekend and will have one final trial at Caulfield on Wednesday morning. Lees is confident the five-year-old is fit enough to tackle the 2015 Peter Young Stakes first-up.
“We worked him up here on Saturday and he continues to please,” Lees told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“He doesn’t go out to break the clock but he does it well, and we will give him another gallop on Wednesday down there.”
Lees admits the 1800 metre of the Peter Young Stakes looks too short for the stayer but it’s an ideal, easy first-up race. The trainer revealed it will be a light autumn campaign for the horse, who’ll be aimed at the spring where he’ll potentially defend his Melbourne Cup title.
How he runs on Saturday will determine where Protectionist heads next. He featured in the first acceptances for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) yesterday, which is run at Flemington on March 14, however the horse could head back to Sydney for Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill two weeks later.
Protectionist’s main autumn goal is the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11, over his ideal distance of two miles.
“He is a stayer, so I’m still a little guarded about him at the shorter course and how he might react in our races,” Lees said.
“It will be a little out of his comfort but we will get a good guide on him on Saturday.
“How he runs will determine where he will go.
“Whatever happens he will have a light autumn, so he is ready for the spring.”
The 2015 Peter Young Stakes final field will be released later this morning (Wednesday). Open your Ladbrokes.com.au online betting account today to receive a $250 bonus match on your first bet.