After a likely return in Victoria the reigning Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist is earmarked for a return to Sydney for a shot at The BMW 2015 this autumn.
The German import won the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) last November in just his second Australian start when still prepared by Andreas Wohler.
He has stayed on in Australia after his barnstorming four length victory over triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux in the world’s richest handicap, the Australian Bloodstock-owned Monsun stallion now prepared by Newcastle-based Kris Lees.
Five-year-old Protectionist is most likely to kick off his latest campaign during the Melbourne Festival of Racing with two runs before his assault on Sydney.
Lees confirmed he was looking at the same path that Gai Waterhouse’s 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente followed for his autumn return last year by resuming in the $200,000 Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28.
From there he will then head to Flemington on March 14 for the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), Fiorente having completed the double in 2014 before a Ranvet Stakes flop at Rosehill when seventh to Silent Achiever.
He bounced back a fortnight later however when a brave third behind the Ranvet winner again, this time in the $1.5 million Group 1 The BMW Stakes (2400m) back at Rosehill Gardens.
That weight-for-age classic is now also the main Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival aim for Protectionist in 2015, The BMW to run on March 28.
“We haven’t really settled on the exact plan, but there are a couple of options,” Lees told RSN’s Racing Ahead.
“It’s very, very congested the programming this season, especially in Sydney, so we haven’t really sat down and said which way we’re going to go, but possibly he comes to Melbourne and runs in the Peter Young and the Australian Cup and then back for The BMW.
“That’s the likely scenario, but we’ll just see as we get a bit closer.”
Fiorente (2013/14) became the first male Melbourne Cup / Australian Cup double winner in a single season since the Sydney edition became a weight-for-age event.
Before him the only others to achieve the rare dual-state Cups double were mighty mares Let’s Elop and Makybe Diva.
Protectionist could be looking to become the next with Lees yet to confirm whether English hoop Ryan Moore, aboard for his Melbourne Cup success, will be in the saddle for the second leg of the double.
“We’ve tossed up a few names but we’re not in any great hurry to decide on that yet,” he said.
Autumn racing odds are yet to be released for Protectionist’s aims in 2015 through Ladbrokes.com.au but he does top their all-in Melbourne Cup 2015 futures at $13.
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