The three owners of Group 1 star Pyledriver are looking forward to a globetrotting winter following the exciting colt’s successful return from injury at Lingfield Park.
Pyledriver was sidelined by an untimely muscle problem that had kept him out of action for five months before winning the Listed Churchill Stakes last weekend – a performance that has booked his place on the plane to Hong Kong.
Joint trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick were so impressed with his comeback run they have given the four-year-old the green light to take his chance in next month’s Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
“It’s tremendously exciting,” says co-owner Guy Leach of the La Pyle Partnership. “We turned up for his ‘prep’ run at Lingfield thinking that a win would be an added bonus after so long off the track.
“He was giving some quality rivals 7lb because of his Group 1 penalty, was racing over a trip short of his best and wasn’t 100 per cent fit but he was magnificent. Now it’s all systems go for 12th December.”
Guy, who shares the colt with brother Huw and close friend Roger Devlin, won’t be making the trip to the Far East because of the three-week quarantine rule, so all three will have to settle for watching the race on television.
As Muir and jockey Martin Dwyer are categorised as elite sportsmen, they won’t face such restrictions as Pyledriver sets out on an ambitious winter campaign that may also take in the Saudi Cup in February and the Sheema Classic in Dubai in March.
“Of course, we’re gutted we can’t go. Being confined to a hotel room for three weeks wouldn’t be much fun,” adds Guy. “But we will hopefully fly out to Riyadh if he runs in the Saudi Cup and definitely plan to go to Dubai.
“The Sheema Classic looks the ideal race for him. William is convinced he will handle the quick turf out there and 2,400 metres is his ideal distance. We’ll see how things go in Hong Kong before making any definite plans but to be in Dubai on World Cup night would be very exciting.”
The La Pyle partners were dreaming of seeing their colt in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris before his injury brought their season to a half after the Coronation Cup victory.
“It was so disappointing to have to stop at that point but we had every faith in William getting him back to his best,” recalls Guy. “We never imagined after winning at Epsom that our next race would be on the All-Weather at Lingfield!
“But the lay off was probably meant to be. Martin says he feels much stronger for his break and he’ll go into his winter campaign fresh and well.
“We still dream of winning the King George and the Arc which will be our main aims next season, and we’d love to take him to the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland. He never stopped improving from three to four so what’s to say he won’t be even better as a five-year-old?”