Horses To Follow » Pastoral Player

Pastoral Player

The impact of the draw over seven furlongs and a mile at Goodwood cannot be overplayed. On anything other than really soft ground, a low draw is normally seen as vital as it allows horses to get out and get prominent around the turning track, thereby avoiding trouble. In the Betfair Summer Double Second Leg Handicap Stakes on Saturday, the winner Eton Rifles emerged from stall five, and it was those who raced prominently who dominated. Both Webbow and Below Zero did well to get out of the stalls and across to prominent positions, Below Zero managed to get right out across to lead, and he wasn’t really hassled in front, while the winner, Eton Rifles, was never far away just in behind them. Pastoral Player has often had trouble breaking on terms and so he was always going to have a tough task on Saturday coming from stall 13, especially when it transpired that there wasn’t that much pace on up front.

Steve Drowne actually managed to get Pastoral Player out fine, but he seemed intent on dropping him right out. The horse does seem to be at his best when coming right through horses so this move was understandable, but it did allow those drawn wider to move in front of him meaning that he was always going to be hostage to fortune in the straight. As it turned out, he didn’t have a great deal of luck, he was hampered around the bend, and he was still in the last pair two furlongs out and rather caught in a pocket. Drowne had to pull him right out towards the centre of the course where he passed a couple of rivals before seeming to hang in towards the rail and so had to be pulled right out to the outside again. From that point he finished strongly, running on well all the way to the line, as he often does, to just get up for sixth.

He was drawn high in the Stewards’ Cup over six furlongs here four weeks previously, and it initially looked like he was going to stay on the near side but when Drowne realised there were only four others who had stayed on that side he had a change of heart and headed over to the main body of runners down the middle after half a furlong. He was switched right in behind runners down the centre before having to weave his way through, Drowne not able to properly ask him for his full effort until the last half-furlong, and he ran on for sixth place there too. He did not appear to have any trouble with the track on that occasion, but he was always among horses and the round course at Goodwood is more contoured than the straight track. He should be better suited to a more conventional track and he has plenty of options now that he has proved seven furlongs is fine for him. He is definitely worth another try at the trip.

He has been dropped 1lb following this run to 102, although he would be off 103 if he were to take his chance in the Ayr Gold Cup, given that that contest is an early closing race. That race is definitely a possibility for him, back over six furlongs, he has gone close in both the Wokingham and Stewards’ Cup off that mark, and the winners of those two races have now progressed to Group contests, so there is no standout horse for the race at this stage. He is in again over seven furlongs at Ascot on Saturday off his new lower mark, possibly reopposing Saturday’s winner Eton Rifles, who will have to carry a 6lb penalty if he takes his chance. That could be the race for Pastoral Player, back on a more testing track.

27th August 2011