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Melbourne Cup A Possibility For Protectionist: Lovett
Managing part-owner Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock says that Protectionist could return to Australia for another tilt at the Melbourne Cup in the spring if he continues to improve and remains sound. Protectionist took the first tentative step in resurrecting his career when scoring an effortless 3.25-length win over 2200 metres at Dusseldorf in Germany on Sunday. The 6YO German-bred stayer failed to win another race after his brilliant 2014 Melbourne Cup victory, with connections putting his poor form down to a failure to adapt to Australian racing conditions. Australia's firm tracks were cited as the cause of bone bruising in all four fetlocks with the disease referring secondary pain across Protectionist's back and hindquarter causing him to lose his action when placed under pressure. Now back in the care of former trainer Andreas Wohler in Germany, Protectionist is expected to make his next appearance in the Gr2 Hansa-Preis (2400m) at Hamburg on Sunday 3 July. "The purpose of the race was to kick him off and obviously to give him some confidence because it had been a while since he was in the winner's circle. The performance was probably better than we expected. He has come through the run fantastic and so we will now push on to the Group Two race at Hamburg in four weeks time," Lovett told Melbourne's Radio Sport National yesterday. "To be fair to the horse it has been a long road back. It was well publicised that he just wasn't coping with Australia's firm tracks but he spent a lot of time on the sand tracks at Andreas's training base to condition him to get ready for his return to the races." He added: "Andreas was very apprehensive going into the race but he was quite excited when he saw him go past the wining post. It was just a relief to see the horse back because he has been a very good horse to us." Lovett confirmed that the Melbourne Cup in November was a target as long as Protectionist showed he was back to his best. "After Sunday night we can dare to dream again and there may be an opportunity to bring the horse back for our big race in November, but if he was to fall short of that mark there are plenty of nice races for him in France and other parts of Europe. We are under no illusions...but the Melbourne Cup is a race we would love to race in," said Lovett. "The Group Two race will provide a good gauge...if he were to win or run top three, then we would pursue a preparation that could possibly lead to a Melbourne spring." He added: "But we are not getting ahead of ourselves. He has won a race against moderate opposition...but we will give him every chance."