Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist will be unable to defend his title in this year’s $6.2 million race after connections decided to spell the horse.
Trainer Kris Lees confirmed on Thursday morning that Protectionist had received veterinary attention over the last few days and bone soreness in the former German galloper made any future racing impossible.
“We sent him down to the Werribee veterinary clinic after his Caulfield Cup run and they gave him an MRI scan and deep-seated soreness in his bones was evident but what made it difficult was the horse was never outwardly sore,” Lees said.
“But pressure went on and the concussion of hitting the ground was affecting the horse. We would have loved to have been part of the Melbourne Cup but it’s just not to be.”
After the veterinary diagnosis was handed down, Lees said that it was agreed that Protectionist would now have a six-month spell before making any other move in his career.
“I was quite thrilled midway through the Caulfield Cup last Saturday as he was moving into the race like the old Protectionist but once the pressure went on you could see he was starting to feel the pain.
“He could have another preparation and against that he’s a stallion and he could well go to stud,” he said.
Protectionist came to Australia last year and after one eye-catching run at Caulfield came out and scored brilliantly in the Melbourne Cup with many believing it was the best 3200 metre victory in recent times.
Ryan Moore, who rode the horse to victory last year, also complemented the former international but sadly for connections nothing has worked out since last Melbourne Cup day.
Indifferent form in the autumn and spring confused Lees but he’s now been able to pinpoint where the problems were with the horse.
While Protectionist heads to the paddock, Lees admitted that there had been strong interest from Europe to have the horse stand at stud in the coming years.
Another disappointed trainer was Flemington horseman Nigel Blackiston, who announced that his Melbourne Cup hope Let’s Make Adeal had injured a tendon at trackwork on Thursday morning and he too would be out of Melbourne Cup qualifications.
Meanwhile, Almoonquith moved to no.27 on the order of entry for this year’s Melbourne Cup after gaining a one-kilogram penalty for his strong Geelong Cup success.
The penalty, and the fact that two stayers ahead of Almoonquith dropped out, has put the international in a prime position to gain a start in the Melbourne Cup. He will now carry 53kg.
“It was a very impressive win, he beat a Group 1 winner in Dandino, and the race has had a stunning formline with the Melbourne Cup, and for those reasons I’ve lifted his weight by 1kg.”
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