Newcastle horseman Kris Lees is warning punters at Caulfield ahead of Saturday’s Peter Young Stakes 2015 believing his race favourite Protectionist is under the odds first-up over the distance.
German import Protectionist made an immediate impact down under during the spring and returns on Saturday on Blue Diamond Stakes Day to kick off a hopefully equally impressive Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
A five-year-old son of Monsun, the entire was a fast finishing fourth making up lots of ground late behind Big Money in his Australian debut last October in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).
That gun run saw his odds to win the ‘race that stops a nation’ be slashed in from 50-something to $8 by the first Tuesday of November at Flemington where he ended up running away for an easy four length victory over Red Cadeaux in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
His shortest distanced win from his five successful starts from 10 runs so far however is over a mile (1600m) so his new trainer Lees, who started caring for the Australian Bloodstock-owned stayer at the end of last year, is far from bullish over his chances this weekend.
The mile victory was on debut in a maiden and the horse’s only other start under 2000m was a second over 1700m.
Protectionist adds genuine interest to the 13-starter field for the $200,000 Group 2 Crown Golden Ale Peter Young Stakes (1800m), the weight-for-age showdown running as Caulfield Race 6 at 4:35pm (AEDT).
Drawn in barrier seven for Craig Williams, who rode him in the Herbert Power Stakes before being replaced by Ryan Moore in the Melbourne Cup, the galloper is looking to win the race first-up like 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente did last autumn.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente also went on to win the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington, a race held on March 14 this year that Protectionist leads the early Ladbrokes.com.au markets for.
The 2015 Australian Cup target however could be taken off the table if the reigning Melbourne Cup winner doesn’t perform over the shorter distance in the Peter Young Stakes, Ladbrokes paying $3.80 for him to win his resuming run.
Pace will be key to whether Protectionist handles the 1800m according to Lees, a fast sprint to finish likely ruling his galloper out of a win.
“If it’s a slowly run race and they sprint from the 600 then I think he’ll be found wanting a little bit,” Lees told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“If he’s able to get a building tempo and a little bit of clear running then I think he’ll be effective.
“Regardless of where he finishes I want to see him strong through the line. I think he can win under the right circumstances but he’s been pretty well found in the market and I’d be a bit guarded from a betting perspective.”
One thing firmly in the horse’s favour though is his barrier seven draw.
“It appears a perfect draw in the middle of the field to give him options,” Lees said.
“There doesn’t appear a great deal of pressure on paper so it will be interesting to see how the race is run.
“There’s a couple of good horses that are more race-fit than him.”
The main dangers according to the bookmakers in the latest Peter Young Stakes betting markets are Mackinnon Stakes winner Happy Trails ($5.50), Lindsay Park’s CF Orr Stakes fifth placegetter Spillway ($6.50) and third in the same Group 1 lead-up from a fortnight ago Mourinho ($7).
To check out the full Peter Young Stakes odds for this weekend and the futures Australian Cup odds for next month at Flemington, visit our preferred online betting agency Ladbrokes.com.au today!