Jul 18

Melbourne Cup contender Protectionist flying the flag for Mendooran part-owner

Protectionist being put through some track work last week. The German stallion is part-owned by Mendooran’s John Hunter. Photo: Getty ImagesMENDOORAN’S John Hunter will have the chance to fulfil the dream of any horse owner today when Protectionist lines up in the Melbourne Cup.

Hunter, a part-owner of the five-year-old through the Australian Bloodstock syndicate, spoke to the Daily Liberal shortly after taking part in the annual Melbourne Cup parade in Federation Square yesterday and he admitted he was beginning to feel a mix of nerves and excitement with the big race edging closer.

“It’s the Melbourne Cup, it’s probably the race most people in the world want to win,” he said.

“I’m going to the call of the card now and that will really start it but I’d say when the horses go out on to the track tomorrow (today) it will really kick in.”

The German galloper, trained by Andreas Wohler, is a genuine contender today and has been among the favourites since shooting to prominence in the Herbert Power Stakes last month.

The stallion ran fourth but without luck in that race and hopes have been high since that promising performance.

While Hunter wasn’t getting carried he believes his horse is one of four favourites and confessed he was feeling optimistic about his chances.

“We are, the trainer is confident, he’s really muscled up since his run in the Herbert Power Stakes but all the tension and focus has been around the Japanese horse (Admire Rakti), Fawkner, and Lucia Valentina too,” he said.

“I think we’re the four chances, I think there’s more than a few chances that can’t win it.”

Further boosting Protectionist’s chances is the fact he will be ridden by arguably the world’s best jockey in Ryan Moore and will also be jumping from barrier 11, a barrier which the most Melbourne Cup winners (7) have come from.

Hunter wasn’t aware of barrier 11’s record until after the draw and admitted it was another positive while he also praised Moore, an Englishman who has won Group 1 winners in seven different countries this year.

“He’s got a great jockey on him, he’s won 14 Group 1 winners around the world this year so hopefully he can do the job again,” he said.

“He’s in there, he’s healthy and has worked really well, he just trotted and cantered this morning (Monday).”

Hunter was in Sydney on the weekend to see another horse he has a share in, Hera, win at Rosehill, following on from his horse Magic Poet winning at Coonabarabran a week earlier.

With luck on his side recently Hunter said he couldn’t even imagine how it would feel if Protectionist was to win the race that stops a nation.

“Hopefully wins come in threes,” he laughed

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