Protectionist prevails for Germany

Germany added its name to the Emirates Melbourne Cup honour roll thanks to a brilliant performance by Protectionist in the $6.2 million event at Flemington on Tuesday.

The five-year-old unleashed the most dominant Melbourne Cup display in almost two decades to win a dramatic renewal of Australia’s greatest race.

With superstar English jockey Ryan Moore aboard, the Andreas Wohler-trained entire powered to a four-length win over English veteran Red Cadeaux with Sydney gelding Who Shot Thebarman third.

There was a sad post-script to the race when Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti, the $5.50 favourite who tailed out to finish last, collapsed in his stall and died less than half an hour after the race.

Before that drama transpired, Wohler, a legend of the sport in his homeland, described the victory as the biggest of his decorated career.

“We’ve had great successes all over the world, but this is overwhelming, this is the biggest of all,” he said.

“It’s unbelievable, it won’t be until later when you think about it (that it sinks in). This is a moment you won’t forget in your life.

“It’s a big achievement from the whole team and it was a long-range plan.”

Protectionist, who like last year’s winner Fiorente is a son of Monsun, became the first German-trained winner of the race that has been won by horses from a number of countries since Irish raider Vintage Crop ‘internationalised’ the race in 1993.

Media Puzzle, who like Vintage Crop (1993) was trained by Dermot Weld, won in 2002 before Delta Blues won for Japan in 2006, while France tasted success through Americain and Dunaden in 2010 and 2011.

Despite being the most inexperienced runner in the race, Protectionist powered to the greatest winning margin since Doriemus, who also won by four lengths, in 1995.

Red Cadeaux turned in yet another fine performance at his fourth attempt at the race to add a third second placing to previous near-misses in 2011 and 2013, while Chris Waller’s Who Shot Thebarman was half-a-length away third.

Darren Weir’s Signoff was solid in fourth position with Godolphin’s Willing Foe fifth.

Precedence, another who was contesting the race for the fourth time, finished sixth with Araldo seventh. Araldo was later found to be suffering from an injured cannon bone and was taken to the Werribee Vet Clinic.

Moore said he got further back than he wanted to aboard Protectionist, but the solid tempo set by My Ambivalent played into his hands and the horse did the rest once the gaps appeared in the straight.

“They went a strong pace and there was a lot of speed early on,” Moore said. “I was struggling for position, so I dropped back on the rail and followed Mutual Regard before he gave in and I was just searching for splits and I had so much horse underneath me.

“He’s won very easy like a very good horse.”

The victory came at just Protectionist’s 10th start – making him the most inexperienced winner since Skipton, the last three-year-old to win the race, in 1941.

He has now won half of those outings, and finished in the minor placings on four occasions, with the $3.6 million winner’s purse almost 14 times what he had earned entering the Melbourne Cup ($258,660).

It was a bitter-sweet victory for Wohler, who will now bid farewell to Protectionist, as he is now headed to Newcastle to be trained by Kris Lees, whose 2014 runner Lucia Valentina finished 14th.


Purton devastated by Admire Rakti’s death

Jockey Zac Purton says he is devastated by the death of Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) champion Admire Rakti following Tuesday’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.

The Tomoyuki Umeda-trained stayer collapsed once he got back to his stall after finishing last in the $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) suffering what is believed to be a heart attack or internal haemorrhage.

Purton said he knew there was something wrong with the horse early in the race and deliberately eased him down.

“I knew he was in trouble when he didn’t tow me into the race around halfway from home so I eased him down straight away, the horse’s welfare comes first,” Purton said.

“It’s very sad. He gave me a great thrill at Caulfield and for this to happen to him is just not fair.

“I didn’t think they’d beat me. I thought he’d win today and the whole way through the first half of the race I thought that too.”

Racing Victoria Chief Steward Terry Bailey said the cause of Admire Rakti’s death wouldn’t be confirmed until they received the results of an autopsy.

“The favourite, Admire Rakti, on return to the tie-up stalls after the race has collapsed and died unfortunately,” Bailey said.

“Our vets are on hand and the horse will undergo an autopsy and we’ll have to await those results to find out the cause of the death.”

“Straight away, it’s normal procedure for the horse to be vetted anyway, so we were onto it. Unfortunately, just the process going back to the stalls to get hosed down and go to the swab box, the horse has passed away.”


Preferment breaks maiden in Derby

Two of Australian racing’s most prolific performers combined with a horse who had never won a race to take out the feature race on the opening day of the Emirates Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The Chris Waller-trained Preferment carried Hall of Fame jockey Damien Oliver to victory in the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.

The Zabeel colt downed Bondeiger in a thrilling battle, with Nozomi third in front of a crowd of 90,244.

It was the first win in seven starts for the son of Zabeel, who had finished runner-up three times – including a nose defeat at his previous start in the Geelong Classic – and third once at his previous outings.

“The writing was on the wall last start and he’s by that great stallion Zabeel and he had a great rider aboard him,” Waller said.

“He’s just a genuine stayer. He’s a very talented horse and being a colt, the sky’s the limit for him.”

Preferment made it a Derby Day Group 1 double for Waller, who earlier won the other elite-level race for three-year-olds, the $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), with Brazen Beau.

He narrowly missed out in the Group 1 race that split the two three-year-old features with He’s Your Man nosed out of the $1 million Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) by Happy Trails.

Ironically, Oliver was aboard Happy Trails and the champion hoop boosted his career Group 1 tally to 104 with his Derby Day double.

Preferment became only the second son of Zabeel to win the Victoria Derby, joining 2006 winner Efficient, and Oliver said he might be capable further capable of emulating Efficient in 12 months’ time.

“He could be back here next year on the Tuesday next year (for the Melbourne Cup),” Oliver said. “He’s that type of horse, he’s a real stayer and I think he’s just going to get better.”

It was the fifth win in the Victoria Derby for Waller, whose first – Redding, in 1992 – also came aboard a maiden. His other victories were with Amalfi (2001), Elvstroem (2003) and Fiveandahalfstar (2012).

Preferment, who started at $8.50, scored by a long head from Bondeiger ($11), with Geelong Classic winner Nozomi ($41) one-and-a-quarter lengths away third.

Light Up Manhattan ($26) did well to finish fourth after encountering not much luck in the home straight, while Magicool ($16, fifth) loomed as a threat midway down the straight but only battled over the concluding stages.

Hampton Court, the $2.45 favourite, was ridden positively early by Kerrin McEvoy and travelled sweetly once finding the spot outside leader Royal Standing but was beaten soon after straightening and finished eighth.

“We got into a forward spot, I should’ve asked him to quicken at the 600 just because he takes a little bit of winding up but all of a sudden they were up and around me and he had no more to give,” McEvoy said.


Bonaria wins in Myer blowout

Veteran mare Bonaria has broken her Group 1 drought after scoring an upset win in Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington.

The win provided trainer Pat Hyland with his first success at the highest level since Zarita claimed the 2008 South Australian Derby (2500m).

The seven-year-old also gave jockey Michael Rodd his third win in the race following previous victories aboard Divine Madonna (2007) and Appearance (2012).

Hyland said the win was made even more special with the daughter of Redoute’s Choice being owned by good friends.

“It’s so fantastic for Robert and Deb Anderson and they’ve been with me for many, many years,” Hyland said.

“It’s her first Group 1 and its something very special because they’re great friends of ours.

“She is one of my favourites. I’ve had some really good fillies. She’s very special and she’s probably as good as any of them. She tried harder than any other horse I’ve had.”

Near last on the corner, once Bonaria ($26) got the outside in the straight she produced an impressive finish to score a one-length win over Sweet Idea ($6.50), with Catkins ($7.50) a further half-head away in third.

After beginning from barrier 13, Rodd said a cold ride was the key to his mount’s winning hopes.

“I only just went back from a pretty average barrier and that’s the best way to ride her then, give her some rein,” Rodd said.

“She’s just so honest. Every time she shows up she’s in the top few in the finish.

“She’s got a brilliant turn-of-foot and when I went for her in the last few hundred metres she really ripped through them.”


Happy Trails wins Mackinnon

Happy Trails put a luckless run in the $3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) behind him with a last-stride victory in Saturday’s $1 million Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

The win was the Paul Beshara-trained gelding’s third success at the highest level following wins in the 2012 Emirates Stakes (1600m) and 2013 Turnbull Stakes (2000m).

Beshara said Happy Trails would now head to the paddock before coming back in the autumn to target the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in Sydney.

“It was an outstanding run; a champions run,” Beshara said.

“He got held up in the Turnbull (Stakes), never saw daylight. I think he’s the best weight-for-age horse in Australia, if not the world.

“He’s just a great, great horse. He’s so accommodating, he gives you his heart.”

After settling towards the rear of the field early, when jockey Damien Oliver pulled Happy Trails ($7) to the outside in the straight he powered to the line before eventually reeling in He’s Your Man ($6) in the shadows of the post.

After racing wide throughout, Farraaj ($12) finished a further three-quarters-of-a-length away in third.

Speaking after his first Group 1 success for the season, Oliver said Happy Trails deserved to get the win.

“He hasn’t had a lot of luck this Spring, we didn’t finish far from the winner (in the Cox Plate) and he deserved to win a big race this Spring,” Oliver said.

“I can’t let Joao the Brazilian win them all, mate!

“It’s a great thrill to win a big race on Derby Day and its just fantastic for Paul (Beshara) and Eric and Pete, all the owners, wonderful.”