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Lees Guarded About Protectionist
Kris Lees says he expects Protectionist (Monsun-Patineuse, by Peintre Celebre) to run well in Saturday's Gr1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington, but is adamant the German-bred stayer won't be seen at his best until he steps out to a mile-and-a-half at his next start. The Melbourne Cup winner was only average when resuming with a sixth place finish (beaten 4-lengths) in the Gr2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield two weeks ago, but Lees says the run probably matched his expectations. "He probably ran up to our expectations. He just hasn't looked sharp enough for these shorter races and that's still our concern going into Saturday's race," Lees told RSN radio yesterday. "But I'm pleased with how he's coming up. He's a genuine stayer and a lovely horse to train. He did a little bit of work this morning (Thursday)...he's in good order." He added, "He has taken good improvement out of it. He's still probably about 10 kilos away from his Melbourne Cup weight, but he's in pretty good order." Lees said Protectionist will return to his Broadmeadow stable after the Australian Cup to prepare for the Gr1 BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on 28 March. "I think we'll see the best of him probably at his next run when he gets to a mile and a half but I still think he can be effective on Saturday."