Player can score on Ladies Day
Simon Holt previews Saturday's card at Newbury with Pastoral Player fancied to land the Betfred Goals Galore Ladies Day Handicap.
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With no guaranteed pace in the field, Newbury's Betfred Hungerford Stakes looks a difficult race to call on Saturday with the recent Goodwood winner ES QUE LOVE (declared a non-runner on Friday evening) given a narrow vote.
A hardy but sometimes difficult horse to win with in the past, the Clive Cox-trained five-year-old appeared to produce a career-best in the Lennox Stakes, travelling smoothly in behind horses before producing a decisive turn of foot to lead and then hold off Toormore by a neck.
With regular partner Adam Kirby suspended, Cox has decided to take advantage of the availability of top-class French jockey Gerald Mosse who will be charged with delivering a well-timed run.
Given that Es Que Love was beaten only a half length by Music Master over six furlongs on his previous start (also at Newbury) and was also not beaten far in the five-furlong Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, he certainly has enough speed to cope with a tactical contest.
He was also a good third to Maarek at York in the Duke Of York Stakes (6f) back in May when ground conditions, like Newbury, were on the easy side so seems a genuinely versatile horse with regards to ground and distance.
Last year's winner Gregorian must have excellent claims on his fine running-on third to Slade Power in the July Cup (6f) given that this is probably his best trip and, if the going remains on the soft side, that should be ideal too.
However, John Gosden's sometimes enigmatic performer was a disappointing beaten favourite behind Garswood in the Prix Maurice de Gheest last week and this looks a quick enough reappearance.
Best of the others could be Professor, a game winner at Haydock last time but found wanting in Group company in the past while the soft-ground loving Breton Rock also takes a step up in class.
Chil The Kite, winner of a handicap over the course and distance in May, has been off the course since finishing a fine second in the Royal Hunt Cup in June and may not get the fast pace which seems to suit him.
Earlier, Chil The Kite's trainer Hughie Morrison is fancied to strike in the Betfred Goals Galore Ladies Day Handicap with that somewhat mercurial seven-year-old PASTORAL PLAYER.
Always a talented but tricky customer, he looks to have been given a great chance by the handicapper here off a rating of 95 (he was 113 at his best) despite not being disgraced on a couple of occasions this season when sixth to Gabriel's Lad on good to soft ground in the Victoria Cup and then finishing first home in his group (but only tenth overall) in the Buckingham Palace Handicap at Royal Ascot.
With promising claimer Charlie Bennett (five wins from 23 rides this season) taking off another 7lb, this is Pastoral Player's best opportunity for a long time.
Meanwhile, the Betfred TV Geoffrey Freer Stakes looks very tricky with question marks hanging over many of the runners.
Most interest will surround the reappearance of that wonderful international campaigner Red Cadeaux who finished second to Royal Empire in this race 12 months ago before going onto finish second to Fiorente on his third appearance in the Melbourne Cup.
It will also be good to see 2012 Ebor winner Willing Foe on the comeback road having been missing since winning here in May, 2013.
Pether's Moon possibly boasts the best recent form after beating the reopposing Cafe Society into third place at Goodwood recently but Richard Hannon's charge did not look a straightforward ride, and now carries a small penalty and wears blinkers.
Somewhat, the sole three-year-old in the field, must have a big shout on recent thirds in the Eclipse and the Gordon Stakes but would probably need conditions to dry out a bit while Seal Of Approval was very disappointing on her last start. To me, it looks like a race to sit back and watch.
- Preview posted at 1245 BST on 15/08/2014.