Features | 22nd December 2021
Pyledriver, the homebred colt who achieved success at the very highest level for his syndicate owners this year, is all set to embark on an ambitious international campaign after almost pulling off a fairytale victory in Hong Kong.
The four-year-old came close to winning the prestigious Longines Hong Kong Vase on Sunday, easing clear with the winning post in his sights until Japan’s 2019 winner Glory Vase reeled him in in the dying strides.
Despite having a famous victory snatched from their grasp, the La Pyle Partnership are already looking forward to the next challenge – a possible crack at the Saudi Cup in February before heading to Dubai for the Group 1 Sheema Classic on World Cup night at Meydan the following month.
“After that performance we will definitely be considering the Saudi Cup next,” confirms Guy Leach, who shares Pyledriver with his brother Huw Leach and former university friend Roger Devlin. “The Sheema Classic remains our main target but it’s still a long way off so the Saudi Cup meeting might be a nice way to get a run into him before World Cup night.”
Pyledriver, ridden by Martin Dwyer and trained by William Muir and Chris Grassick, was racing at the top level for the first time since winning the Coronation Cup in June, following a muscle problem.
All three owners were resigned to watching the Hong Kong action on television due to the stringent Covid 19 restrictions imposed on visitors to the former colony.
“We’d have loved to have been there but it just wasn’t feasible,” adds Guy. “I spoke to William every day and he sent us videos to keep us informed. We could see how well the horse had settled in and how happy he was out there.
“I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night and was up early to watch the race just after 5am. To say we were screaming at the telly was an understatement. For a moment I thought we’d won but he gave his all and was simply beaten by a better horse on the day.”
Pyledriver won his warm-up race, the Listed Churchill Stakes at Lingfield in mid-November, before stepping back up in trip to a mile and a half around Sha Tin’s tight turns.
“To win would have been out of this world but we couldn’t have been happier,” he adds. “William and Chris did so well to get him in top condition after such a long time off. He took it all in his stride but the long journey was bound to have taken the edge off him.
“The whole experience can only stand him in good stead for the next time he travels overseas. We’re expecting him to fly back home at Lambourn on 16th December so he’ll be enjoying having the sun on his back for a few days.
“We’re already excited about the possibilities for him next year. We’re almost spoilt for choice,” says Guy, who along with his partners also has one eye on next year’s King George and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Before that, the Ly Pyle Partnership have those big prizes to pursue in the Middle East, of course.