Horses To Follow » Protektorat


Protektorat may not have got the full credit that he was due for winning the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree last Saturday. Dan Skelton’s horse was unproven at the trip of three miles and a furlong going into the race. On his only previous attempt at a distance in excess of two miles and five furlongs, in a three-runner three-mile novices’ chase at Kelso last February, he was beaten by 40 lengths by Empire Steel, the only other finisher. As well as that, he was really keen through the early stages of Saturday’s race, he was still wanting to go faster than rider Bridget Andrews wanted him to go as they raced past the winning post with a circuit to run. You would have forgiven him if, given how keen he was, he had tired on the soft ground in the closing stages of the race. On the contrary, however, he got stronger as the race developed. He moved up on the outside of Native River at the end of the back straight, moved into a clear lead as they rounded the home turn, and came clear from there over the last three fences to win by 25 lengths in a good time.

We know that Protektorat goes well at Aintree, he won the Grade 1 Manifesto Chase at the Grand National meeting in April, but he also goes well at Cheltenham, he won a listed novices’ hurdle there on New Year’s Day in 2020, he won a novices’ chase there at the 2020 November meeting, and he ran a big race to finish second to Midnight Shadow there last month in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. He raced that day as if a step up in trip would be a positive, and he added ballast to that hypothesis at Aintree. He is only six, and he has raced just seven times over fences, so he has the potential to progress to take his place among the top staying chasers, and Gold Cup talk is legitimate talk.
Aintree, 4th December 2021