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Protectionist Joins Lucia In Tramway
Trainer Kris Lees's decision to run Protectionist in Saturday's Gr2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick may now result in the German-bred stayer tackling the 'Cups double' in Melbourne, reports Racingnsw.com.au. Lees yesterday accepted with both Protectionist and last year's Tramway winner Lucia Valentina for the $175,000 feature, and confirmed Christian Reith and Brenton Avdulla respectively as the pair's riders. After giving careful consideration to Protectionist's first-up run, Lees chose the shorter Tramway over the Gr2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) which is run over an extra furlong. "Winning the Melbourne Cup again with the horse is a priority this campaign," Lees said. "We had to give him a longer break because he was injured in the Sydney Cup in April, so I feel the Tramway is the better option to begin his preparation. I didn't want to risk him having a hard run first-up over 1600m in the Chelmsford." Lees had previously planned three lead-up races for Protectionist, including the Chelmsford, before his Melbourne Cup defence at Flemington on November 3. The son of Monsun was to have run in the Gr2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 19 and then the Gr2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 10. Now, the Newcastle trainer is looking at a totally different Cup programme. "Protectionist could still run in the Hill Stakes, but we also have the option of running in the George Main Stakes (1600m) on the same day," Lees said. "Obviously, much will depend on how the horse goes on Saturday and his subsequent progress. If we go to the George Main, we then have to decide whether to keep Protectionist at home for the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick a fortnight later or head to Melbourne." Should Lees choose the latter option, Protectionist would run in the Gr1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), the race won by stable-mate Lucia Valentina last year. Lees would then look at running the Protectionist in the Gr1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 17: "It is more than four weeks to the Melbourne Cup, so the Caulfield Cup looks the logical final lead-up," he said.