Don't Write Off Protectionist

Mar 31, 2015

NEWCASTLE: Tuesday, March 31, 2015: WRITE off Protectionist’s Sydney Cup prospects at your own peril!

That’s the message from trainer Kris Lees, who certainly hasn’t lost confidence in the Melbourne Cup winner bouncing back in Saturday week’s $1.6m Cup (3200m) at Randwick.

Protectionist has been unplaced in three starts – all at weight-for-age – since joining Lees’ stable; the latest when fifth to ruling Cup favorite Hartnell in last Saturday’s $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill.

“I’m looking forward to the Sydney Cup with the horse,” Lees said this morning.

“I wasn’t disappointed with his Rosehill run at all. We had to go back from the outside barrier.

“If he had drawn an inside alley, he would have had a softer run closer to the pace.

“For all that, he was beaten only a bit over two lengths. I thought it was a really good effort from a Sydney Cup viewpoint.

“From my point, it wasn’t far short of his Herbert Power (2400m) fourth last October before he won the Melbourne Cup.

“I’ve said all along he is an out and out two miler. At this stage of his career, he is not a weight-for-age horse, but there were no other options leading up to the Cup.”

Hartnell is $2.80 Cup favorite with TAB.com.au ahead of BMW fourth Who Shot The Barman at $6, with Protectionist and Red Cadeaux on the third line of betting at $8.

Lees has sent Lucia Valentina, who finished seventh in The BMW, for a “refresher” at his Ellalong Farm in the Hunter Valley.

“In retrospect, I wouldn’t have run her if I had realised the track had dried out as much as it did,” Lees said.

“At this stage, I will go ahead and run her in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with Hugh Bowman her rider.”

The $4m wfa Queen Elizabeth (2000m) will be run at Randwick on the same program as the Sydney Cup.

Lees has accepted with both fillies Onemorezeta (Hugh Bowman) and Savoureux (Brenton Avdulla) in Thursday’s $150,000 Listed Gosford Guineas (1200m).

They drew the two inside barriers in the field of 11.

Lees also accepted with all four entries in the remaining The Championships Provincial Series $100,000 qualifier (1200m) at Gosford.

Powerline, Jimmy Says Yes and Pinball Lass all gained starts in the field of 16, whilst recent debutant Scone winner Macon County is the sole emergency.

Lees already has four qualifiers for the inaugural 1400m $300,000 final – also at Randwick on Saturday week.

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