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George Main Next For Protectionist
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees has provided an update on the progress of Protectionist (Monsun-Patineuse, by Peintre Celebre) who will line up in the $500,000 Gr1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick this Saturday. Last year's Melbourne Cup winner resumed with a 14th place finish in the Gr2 Tramway Stakes at Randwick 11 days ago, an effort that pleased Lees considering the race was run over a distance (7 furlongs) well short of the stayer's best. "I'm very happy with him. Over an unsuitable trip, I did like the way he finished the race off, although he only beat one home...he had good late closing sectionals which is what we wanted to see," Lees told Melbourne's Radio Sport National yesterday. "He's come through the race in really good order. He's still got some improvement in him. He looks very well, he's very healthy, he has a really good coat on him. He's still 10 to 12 kilograms over his preferred race weight but there's still a while to go so I'm pretty happy with where he's at." After the George Main, Lees said Protectionist will head south to Melbourne to run in the Gr1 Turnbull Stakes and Gr1 Caulfield Cup before he bids to defend his title in the Melbourne Cup. "He'll run in the George Main [on Saturday]," Lees said. "He's also nominated for the Hill Stakes, but at this stage he'll run in the George Main then he'll come down for the Turnbull and then the Caulfield Cup."