Veteran galloper Play Master makes his return at Moonee Valley with trainer Peter Smith thinking long term with the gelding.
Play Master contests the Follow @TheValley Handicap (1000m) on Saturday with Smith looking at an 1100m handicap at Flemington next month for the nine-year-old.
But long-term Smith wants to have Play Master back in town when the tracks aren’t as firm.
“I’ve only brought him back for a couple of runs,” Smith said.
“He races best when there’s a little bit of give in the ground.
“Obviously we’re not going to get that at this time of year but I didn’t want to give him from August to April out in the paddock. It was going to be too long for an old horse.
“He can come back for a couple of runs just to keep him ticking over and then he can have a little short let-up and I’ll get him ready for the winter.”
Play Master has shown he still has what it takes to win in town, scoring up the straight at Flemington in July.
But it’s a far cry from when Smith thought he was up to stakes company in his younger days.
“He had a bad suspensory injury when he was six and that ruled him out of the best year of his career,” Smith said.
“They never come back as good but he did win a race at Flemington as an eight-year-old.
“I was pretty proud of him for that and hopefully he might win one at nine.”
Smith isn’t expecting a great deal on Saturday as Play Master doesn’t perform at his best left-handed and his $71 odds reflect that.
But Smith said he’s had a couple of jump-outs to be fit enough.
“He doesn’t handle Moonee Valley as well as you would hope,” Smith said.
“He probably races best up the straight and the Sydney way, but Randwick is seven hours away.”