Protagonist Lands With A Bang For Haggas Down Under

by TDN AusNZ

Protagonist (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) continued the success story of British trainer William Haggas in Australia when he captured the G3 Sky High S. (2000 metres) at Rosehill (video), beating fellow French-bred 6-year-old gelding Zeyrek (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) when holding on in a photo finish. It won’t be a huge surprise to the team at home, as you may remember Haggas serving a warning on Protagonist late last month when he told TDN AusNZ readers, “You shouldn’t underestimate him, he’s quite a smart horse.”

Still, that was before the horse had touched down on Australian soil and there have been plenty of hurdles to jump since then, and the local preparation has been ably handled by assistant trainer Issy Paul, her second stint in charge of the raiding team having accompanied Addeybb (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}) two years ago.

“To come off a flight and after two weeks of quarantine–we’ve only come out of quarantine today–he’s awesome,” Paul said.

“We weren’t sure whether the ground was going to suit him, particularly when they upgraded the track, but what a star.”

Whilst Paul declined to commit to a future target for the horse, James McDonald pointed to improvement still to come.

“He’s a nice, solid galloper who handles himself beautifully,” McDonald said. “I think he’ll improve a bit off that as well–he hit the front a fair way from home and just star-gazed a bit, just had a good look around. When they got to him he found again, so that was impressive.”

Protagonist was initially purchased as a yearling by Mark McStay/Avenue Bloodstock for €125,000 at Arqana August in 2018.

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