Protectionist To Tackle Australian Cup

Mar 01, 2015

SUNDAY: March 1, 2015: PROTECTIONIST will remain in Melbourne for the $1m Australian Cup - and connections haven't ruled out a Sydney Cup start
either when he returns home.

That is the wash-up to the Melbourne Cup winner's sixth on resumption to Mourinho in the $200,000 Group 2 wfa Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield yesterday at his first start for new trainer Kris Lees.

The former German stayer was sensationally-backed to start $2.90 favourite - a move which certainly wasn't stable inspired.

"I was amazed; I said all week I was guarded about his first-up prospects," Lees said today from Melbourne, where he is attending the Inglis yearling sales.

"I thought he would probably drift out to $6 or $7.

"The main thing is I wasn't disappointed with his run and he has pulled up well this morning.

"He just didn't get around the turn at Caulfield, but worked home nicely.

"It was much like when he ran fourth there in the Herbert Power (2400m) last October at his first Australian start before winning the Melbourne Cup."

Lees said Protectionist would stay at his Caulfield base for the $1m Group 1 wfa Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on Saturday week.

"Flemington will suit him better, but he's no good thing," his trainer warned.

"He is a dead-set stayer."

Protectionist will then return home for the $1.5m Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill a fortnight later. And Lees hasn't ruled out running the stallion in the $1.6m Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 11 during The Championships.

"We'll take it race by race, but it's tempting because he is very well weighted."

Protectionist has been given 58kg topweight for the Sydney Cup; only 1.5kg more than he carried in his runaway four lengths' Melbourne Cup triumph last November.

Meanwhile, stablemate Marple Miss has finished her current campaign.

She also finished sixth yesterday at Caulfield, to favorite Sabatini, in the $200,000 Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m) at her first Melbourne start. She had won her previous three outings in NSW.

"Marple Miss will go to the paddock," Lees said. "She has gone a good job and earned a break."

Lees was a little disappointed with Lucia Valentina's ninth (beaten nearly four lengths) to Contributer in the $500,000 Group 1 wfa Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm yesterday, but is pressing ahead with her autumn preparation.

The mare started $5.50 second favorite behind the winner, now unbeaten at both starts this time in.

"I thought she could have finished a length or so closer even though it was going to be hard for her to win from where she was," Lees said.

"But she has raced a bit flat second-up before."

Lucia Valentina will start next in the $500,000 Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 21 en route to her autumn target, the $4m Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11.

Like the Chipping Norton, both races are run at weight-for-age. Lucia Valentina excels at 2000m; having won two Group 1s at that distance last year (in Sydney and then in Melbourne).

Our Horses