Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell has declared the 2014 winner of the ‘race that stops a nation’ Protectionist a genuine chance of returning to Australia for a shot at the Melbourne Cup 2016 this spring.
The six-year-old son of Monsun travelled Down Under for the first time two years ago and scored a runaway four length win in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington defeating Red Cadeaux over the two miles.
The then German-trained raider was prepared by Andreas Wohler and would stay on racing in Australia for Newcastle’s Kris Lees over last year’s autumn – spring carnival season.
Protectionist failed to finish in the money again from another eight runs on the Aussie turf, his last start in Australia being a disappointing 15th behind Mongolian Khan in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last October.
This Sunday the stallion races back in Germany’s Group 2 Hansa-Preis (2400m) on the back of a ratings race success at Dusseldorf last month.
Murrell said the stayer had been “absolutely thriving” since returning to Germany and the care of Wohler and connections were keen to see him attempt a second win in the world’s richest handicap on the first Tuesday of November this coming spring.
“He’s absolutely thriving over there – he really loves it. Hopefully we’ve got him back to his old self,” he told Racing Ahead on RSN 927.
“It was more a mental thing for the horse, because he had that bone condition when he was here with Kris [Lees] and things didn’t go right, so it was pleasing to see him let go.
“At this stage the plan is to come [back for the Melbourne Cup].”
Protectionist won the 2014 Hansa-Preis and Murrell said the team were tipping another top three finish in the mile and a half this weekend.
“He’s extremely pleased how he’s come out of that run and on everything he’s shown we’re expecting he’ll be in the finish,” he said.
“That will dictate which path we go.”
Possible next-up races after Sunday’s feature for the winner of over $4 million in prize money include the Group 2 Prix Kergolay (3000m) in France next month and trip straight to Australia for a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Group 1.
In futures Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Protectionist pays $26 to become just the second dual winner on non-successive years along with Peter Pan (1932, 1934).
Current all-in Melbourne Cup betting is led by another international, Order Of St George ($13) who is part-owned by Australia’s Lloyd Williams.
Prepared in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, the son of Galileo was last seen winning the Ascot Gold Cup in England and could next head to The Curragh to defend his Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) title in September.
To check out the full all-in Melbourne Cup 2016 betting odds and get behind your early picks in the classic head to Ladbrokes.com.au now!