Past Winners » Pastoral Player


We are well ahead of the market with (our ante post bet) Decent Fella, and the case for him is as it was on Wednesday … However, at the prices, I am (also) giving Pastoral Player one more chance over seven furlongs.

I still think there is a big race like this in Pastoral Player. Noted when unlucky behind Eton Rifles in a big seven-furlong handicap at Goodwood at the end of August, we had him on side when he finished fourth behind Smarty Socks over this course and distance in early September.

You just get the feeling that that wasn’t his true running. He was weak in the market beforehand, and the race didn’t pan out ideally for him. He delivered his challenge on the near side, he saw plenty of daylight from early, as the other three protagonists, Smarty Socks, Gramercy and Eton Rifles, went at each other out in the centre. For a horse who likes to be held up and delivered late, that was far from ideal.

As well as that, it was the first time Darryll Holland had ridden Pastoral Player. He has ridden him again since, when he ran a cracker in the Ayr Gold Cup, running into traffic early and finishing best of all on the near side to finish fifth, and he rides him again today. He should know the horse better now.

Even on the bare form of his Ascot run, he meets Smarty Socks on 7lb better terms, which is more than fair for a four-length beating over seven furlongs. And that was when the race didn’t pan out well for him. And he is one and a half times Smarty Socks’s price.

The way that Pastoral Player finished off in the Ayr Gold Cup suggested that he should get seven furlongs well. He is a classy performer who travels well and who has one of these pots in him off his current mark, which hasn’t moved in seven runs. His run to finish third in the Wokingham proves that he handles the track, yesterday’s good ground (it wasn’t lightning fast) should be ideal and, if Holland can smuggle him into the race, which he should be able to do from stall 13, right in the middle, then he could be in a position to deliver him with a winning run deep inside the final furlong.