Spring hopes rising with Protectionist after injury scare

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Protectionist

CONNECTIONS of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist say its career is likely to continue into the spring.

Protectionist was a flop in the Group 1 Sydney Cup and was subsequently sent for vet checks. Vets are still examining the Kris Lees-trained runner after running 15 lengths behind Grand Marshal in the $1.6 million staying event.

Lees ordered a full set of tests, but managing part-owner, Australian Thoroughbreds co-founder Luke Murell, said nothing obvious has appeared to date, but examinations were continuing.

Murrell said the lack of results from the tests inspired confidence that the son of Monsun’s problems were not severe enough to require more than a spell and minor treatment.

“We thought it might have been a structural issue in the hind-quarter area, but yesterday he was back on his back legs rearing up and he wouldn’t do that if he had a fracture or something,” Murrell said.

“We feared the worst considering how he was after the race. We’re not sure, but Kris [Lees] is quite optimistic that it might just be some pulled muscles.

“Kris is thinking it might be a combination of a number of little factors like a pulled muscle here and a strained muscle there.

“Those types of things that stop a horse racing like throats, fractures and tendons, we’re not thinking it’s any of them because they would have shown up by now.”

Murrell said Protectionist would have been in the spelling paddock on Monday irrespective of its Sydney Cup performance, which would mean Lees would be able to plan the entire’s spring campaign.

Nine entrants line up for Group 1 Champagne Stakes

It mightn’t be the strongest Champagne Stakes field in history, but nine runners will take part in Saturday’s $400,000 feature for two-year-olds at Randwick.

Bookmakers are split between which two horses should start the favourite, either Odyssey Moon at $3.50 or the Peter Moody-trained Pasadena Girl at $3.40 at Crownbet.com.au.

The Rodney Northam-trained Odyssey Moon was a $25,000 sales purchase and has already amassed over $400,000 in stake money.

The Snitzel colt finished second behind Pride of Dubai in the Sires Produce Stakes last start and a 10/1 chance and is the deserved favourite for this.

Pasadena Girl was also a $25,000 sales purchase, which has looked good in three career starts to date, winning two and running fourth behind Pride of Dubai last start.

Having its second run at Randwick will help the two-year-old which has come in for support at $3.40 with bookmakers.

Other supported runners include Takedown, Tarquin and Street Rapper at $8.

Group 1 Champagne Stakes field:

1. The Barrister – $15
2. Odyssey Moon – $3.50
3. Takedown – $5.50
4. Tarquin – $6
5. Street Rapper – $8 at Sportsbet.com.au
6. Rhode Assassin – $26
7. Reckless Russell – $101
8. Pasadena Girl – $3.40
9. Mine Two – $17

Counterattack impresses with mid-week win

The Chris Waller-trained Counterattack could follow a similar path to the likes of Pressday, Zoustar and Brazen Beau after breaking maiden company in fine style at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

Counterattack ($3.40 at CrownBet.com.au) had placed in all three career starts prior to yesterday and it had to carry 60kg to get the job done in the Tab Place Multi Handicap (1200 metres).

In-form jockey Blake Shinn rode the colt to score by a narrow margin, but Waller’s doubts about the weights were put to rest.

“With 60kg in a one metro win, it was a big effort,” Waller said.

“Maybe the handicappers knew a bit more than I did.”

The son of Redoute’s Choice is the half-brother to Shellscrape and Red Tracer and now Waller intends to send the colt to Hawkesbury’s stand-alone meeting next month before a possible trip to Brisbane for the winter carnival.

“He’ll go to Brisbane and get some confidence up there and hopefully will finish his two-year-old season with a bit of black type next to his name,” Waller said.

“These late types of two-year-olds can certainly make up for lost time.

“He’s a lovey scopey horse and if there’s any horse that’s going to train on it will be him.”

Prizemoney the ultimate decider for Fontein Ruby

Prizemoney made up the mind of trainer Robert Smerdon about where to start Group 2 winner Fontein Ruby on Saturday.

The filly by Turffontein was nominated for the Listed $115,000 Auraria Stakes in Adelaide as well as the VOBIS Gold Reef Handicap at Caulfield with the $250,000 purse of the Caulfield race swaying Smerdon towards staying local.

“The Adelaide race was possibly more suitable at 1800 [metres] leading into the South Australian Oaks but the prizemoney here at home was too good to pass up,” Smerdon said.

“Prizemoney apart, the Caulfield race is set-weights so she gets in very well and it looks a good spot for her.”

Fontein Ruby was a last start winner in the Listed Alexandra Stakes at Moonee Valley and will carry 55kg at Caulfield. If it wins, the filly will surpass the $1 million dollar mark in earnings.

“She’s a tough little thing and has thrived since the Moonee Valley win,” Smerdon said.

“The Australasian Oaks in two weeks time at Morphettville is the race we set her for and she’s heading towards that in good shape.”

Nicholas Hall will take over the riding due to Mark Zahra’s suspension.

“She’s trained on well, very well and I could not be more pleased with her,” Smerdon concluded.

Fontein Ruby opened at $2 with bookmakers but is now into $1.90 at WilliamHill.com.au.

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