Rags To Riches Star Pyledriver Has Arc In His Sights

Features | 26th July 2022

Rags to riches home bred Pyledriver wrote one of the most remarkable shared ownership stories in history when he rampaged to a famous victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday (23rd July).

Despite being overlooked in the betting for a stellar renewal, William Muir and Chris Grassick’s five-year-old eased to a two and three-quarter length victory in the hands of northern based rider PJ McDonald – a super sub for the injured Martin Dwyer.

Born to an unsuccessful hurdler, the son of unfashionable stallion Harbour Watch took his career earnings close to the £2 million mark in landing Flat racing’s mid-summer showpiece for the ecstatic La Pyle Partnership.

Now plans are in place to pull off another fairytale success in Europe’s richest race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris in October.

Guy Leach, who owns Pyledriver in partnership with his brother Huw and long-time university friend Roger Devlin, told Inthepaddock: “Williams and Chris will now train him for the Arc. It’s always been the plan. We also have the Breeders’ Cup in mind and then there’s the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong Vase. It’s incredibly exciting.”

Re-living the King George, Guy said he couldn’t believe how straightforward the victory was. “Everything went perfectly to plan. He travelled so well through the race and won it so easily we never had an anxious moment.

“We had our families with us to share the occasion which made it all extra-special. They’d hardly seen him run because of all the Covid restrictions but what a day for them to be there! We all went back to William’s yard afterwards to celebrate with his staff and the champagne was certainly flowing.”

Guy paid tribute to the team behind the victory. “William and Chris prepared him beautifully for the race and PJ McDonald gave him a fantastic ride,” he added. “PJ knew the horse well and will be available to ride him in Paris, which is a huge bonus.

“We were disappointed for his regular rider Martin Dwyer, who missed out through injury but played his part behind the scenes. He had a long chat with PJ before the race and the tactics worked out to perfection.”

Pyledriver is already building an illustrious CV. He won the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur at York as a three-year-old before finishing third in the world’s oldest Classic, the St Leger.

Last year, at four, he took his form to another level by winning the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom and was second in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

Now the La Pyle Pasrtnership is looking forward to adding another chapter to this remarkable story in the Arc come the autumn – but Pyledriver isn’t the only horse fuelling their dreams.

They have his half-sister, a promising daughter of the great Frankel called Shagpyle, who will make her racecourse debut later in the summer, and are hoping winning siblings Stockpyle and Country Pyle can build on their promise, too.