The William Haggas stable have stamped their mark on the autumn as they have in the past with Protagonist winning first-up in the Sky High Stakes at Rosehill.
The European raider was given a terrific steer as James McDonald brought up a treble in the seventh race on the program.
He was able to find a prominent position in the run as Knights Order cut across from the wide draw, leading throughout the 2000m contest. That allowed a genuine staying race to ensue, playing favourably to the eventual winner.
Zeyrek was impressive powering to the line again, proving his first-up success was no fluke. Whilst the like of King Frankel and Sunshine Rising battle on gamely in defeat.
Protagonist was just able to sprint clear with 200m to go, leaving some tired horses in his wake.
It was a strong win, with the team by all reports suggesting a Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes tilt may be on the cards. Looking to provide another win in the Australian weight-for-age staple, just as Addeybb did in 2020 and 2021.
2023 Group 3 Sky High Stakes Replay – Protagonist
Stable representative Isabella Paul spoke post-race on behalf of the William Haggas team and were ecstatic with the win.
“Delighted with him,” said Isabella Paul.
“they’re only out of quarantine today. It’s a tough ask to do two weeks quarantine after a long flight and come straight out on ground we weren’t sure he was going to love and do that.
“What a little star and so excited for what he can do for the rest of the carnival.”
When discussing the potential of where to next for Protagonist, Isabella played the cards close to her chest.
“We’ll have to wait and see, we’ll see how he comes out of this.
“He’s got a few different targets, I’m sure the boss (trainer William Haggas) will be having a conversation with Australian Bloodstock and take it from there.”
Jockey James McDonald gave a strong endorsement of the European galloper as well.
“He was good, he’s a nice solid galloper,” said McDonald.
“He handles himself beautifully and I think he’ll improve a bit off that as well. He hit the front a fair way from home, stargazed a bit, just had a good look around.
“When they got to him he found a gear so that was impressive.”
If they do elect to head towards the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Protagonist is currently a $15 chance with online betting sites.