Top-weight Protectionist draws barrier 12 in Caulfield Cup

Strapper Bob Bowe with 2014 Melbourne Cup winner, Protectionist.Defending Melbourne Cup champion Protectionist will jump from barrier 12 in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday.

The top weight was drawn midfield for the $3 million group 1 on Tuesday afternoon with Aberglasslyn-based owner Luke Murrell philosophical about the outcome.

Murrell, who manages the Australian Bloodstock syndicate along with Belmont business partner Jamie Lovett, said this weekend’s 2400 metre journey was merely a warm up for their German stayer in a bid for back-to-back Melbourne Cup victories.

“Realistically this is not his grand final but an important lead up race because he has been trained for one thing only – the Melbourne Cup,” Murrell said.

“The draw will let him settle in the last third of the field without being last and as long as he is

hitting the line we will be on track to run top four in the Melbourne Cup.”

The six-year-old stallion has struggled to find form during the last 12 months after suffering from bone bruising and has raced four times in the last month, including the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on October 4.

Brenton Avdulla has the ride on Protectionist carrying 58 kilograms.

Fellow Kris Lees-trained charge Lucia Valentina will launch from gate 20 in this year’s Caulfield Cup after finishing third in the same race last year.

Early 2015 favourite Mongolian Kahn did his chances little harm by landing gate nine, which could end up a further two inside if the emergency runners don’t start.

Fame Game has drawn barrier one with Royal Descent out at 22. In between them will be Snow Sky (3), Grand Marshal (6), Gust Of Wind (13), Set Square (16) and Melbourne Cup third placegetter Who Shot Thebarman (21).

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