Countdown to the Leger: Pastoral Player eyes OLBG Park Stakes

Crowds gather at Doncaster Racecourse.
Crowds gather at Doncaster Racecourse.

PASTORAL Player could bid for his first victory at Group Two level in the £100,000 OLBG Park Stakes over seven furlongs at Doncaster on Saturday.

The progressive five-year-old, trained by Hughie Morrison, gained his first success in Pattern company at Haydock in the Group Three Jury Stakes over seven furlongs on June 2, before coming home 10th in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs at Royal Ascot on June 23.

He bounced back at the Berkshire course when beaten a neck into second by Fanunalter in the Group Two Summer Mile on July 21, but didn’t enjoy the run of the race when beaten four and a half lengths in the Group Two Hungerford Stakes at Newbury over seven furlongs on August 18, finishing fifth.

Morrison, who trains near Newbury, said: “We are looking at the OLBG Park Stakes for Pastoral Player.

“He has been fine since his run in the Hungerford Stakes but the past two times he has been to Newbury, he hasn’t operated for one reason or another.

“He has never been 100 per cent reliable but it was a funny race and he didn’t give the jockey his usual feel.

“Maybe it was something in the air or he was too close to home!

“He is an improving horse and he has always had it in him to be very good and he proved that at the end of last year, but he has had personal issues which none of us will ever know about.

“I think it’s down to him growing up a bit and maybe six furlongs wasn’t his best trip as he got a mile at Ascot when he didn’t see the winner until very late.

“I think the straight track at Doncaster will be fine for him but it’s possible he might prefer going round a bend.

“We are looking at the Prix de la Foret (Sunday, October 7) over seven furlongs on Arc weekend and there is also the Group Two Prix Daniel Wildenstein over a mile the day before, which we would be very happy to go for.

“If he won the OLBG Park Stakes, we would go for the Prix de la Foret but if he gets beat, we will go for the Prix Daniel Wildenstein.”

Also among the 24 contenders for the seven-furlong contest is Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Foxtrot Romeo, Alan McCabe’s German 2,000 Guineas hero Caspar Netscher and Roger Varian’s Aljamaaheer.

Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has four entries headed by multiple Group One winner Starspangledbanner.

Other notable entries include Sir Henry Cecil’s consistent Chachamaidee, plus Lethal Force and Strong Suit, who took first and second in the Hungerford Stakes.

The Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster runs from Wednesday, September 12, through to Saturday, September 15.

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