After guiding last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist to victory in a nice Newcastle trial on Monday, jockey Hugh Bowman is set to continue his association with the now Kris Lees-trained import first-up in the 2015 Chelmsford Stakes.
The former German-trained Monsun stallion enjoyed a stellar raid on last year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival winning the ‘race that stops a nation’ with a stunning four length victory over triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux in Flemington’s $6.2 million two mile classic on the first Tuesday of November.
He stayed on down under during the autumn but failed to rise to the same heights with four unplaced runs, most recently a seventh when beaten 16 lengths by the Chris Waller-trained Grand Marshall in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) over the two miles at Randwick on April 11.
The Sydney Cup failure was found to be due to the horse suffering from a nasty bone bruise, the now six-year-old sent for a lengthy spell to recover.
He looked back on track for a big return as he tracks towards a title defence in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 3 with a winning Newcastle jumpout over 1200m this week.
Bowman jumped aboard the champion for the first time since they combined for another winning Newcastle trial back in early February, and has been confirmed to partner the $4.1 million earner first-up in the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on September 5.
“Hugh will have first go with the horse in the Chelmsford, so obviously I’m hoping he is keen to stay with him through to the Cup,” Lees said on his website.
“Protectionist worked into the trial nicely in the straight, but idled a little bit when he ranged up to them.
“Importantly, he has pulled up well, so we’re ready now to go back to the races with him.”
After Saturday week’s Chelmsford return, Lees plans to give Protectionist one more Sydney run in the $200,000 Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) on George Main Stakes Day, September 19.
From there he will return to Melbourne for the first time since a below par eighth to Spillway in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) back in mid-March, commencing his Melbourne Cup preparation in earnest.
Less confirmed plans to run the galloper at Caulfield in the $200,000 Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) on October 10, the race Protectionist made his Australian debut in last spring when hitting the line hard with a fast-finishing fourth behind Big Memory.
Japan’s Fame Game leads the current pre-nomination Melbourne Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $11, the Yoshitada Munakata-trained son of Heart’s Cry last seen finishing second to champion galloper Gold Ship in the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m) in May.
Protectionist is rated a $21 chance in the latest Melbourne Cup odds.
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