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.