Newcastle-based trainer Kris Lees has included Protectionist in nominations for two races at Randwick this weekend, but has revealed he will accept a position in the final field of the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) for the Melbourne Cup winner.
Protectionist more than announced himself to the Australian racing community when debuting for fourth in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) before winning the Melbourne Cup by close to five lengths, but was unable to return to the same impressive form through the recent Sydney autumn.
While unable to make anything of a competitive impact when 13th in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick first-up a fortnight ago, Lees told Racing Ahead he believes the 2015 George Main Stakes figures as the ideal next point of call for the Monsun entire.
“We were very happy with him over an unsuitable trip,” Lees said.
“I did like the way that he finished the race off, albeit he only beat one home but he had good closing sectionals, which is all we really wanted to see.
“He has come through the race in really good order.
“He still has a bit of improvement in him, he looks really well and he looks really healthy.
“He is still about 10 to 12 kilos above his preferred race weight, but we still have a bit to go, so I am really happy with where he is at.”
Protectionist has posted an impressive five wins and four minors through fifteen career starts so far, and booked passage to Australia last year when taking out each of the Group 2 Hansa Preis (2413m) and Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) in succession.
Returning this year for sixth in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) on February 28th, Protectionist progressed to eighth in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) and fifth in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) before placing seventh in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on Day 2 of The Championships (3200m).
The 2015 George Main Stakes final field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.
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