Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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PYLEDRIVER faces a maximum of 11 rivals in the Pertemps St Leger Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday where he bids to secure a first Classic win for trainer William Muir.
The son of Harbour Watch is joint favourite at 11-4 alongside Santiago after bagging two Group 2s this term, with victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and an emphatic victory in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at York in mid-August.
Both wins were over one and a half miles and Lambourn-based Muir revealed this week that he has no concerns over ground conditions or a first attempt at the extended one mile and six furlong distance of the St Leger.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and looked magnificent this morning. Even one of my fellow trainers commented on how good he looks,” Muir said earlier this week.
“He does have gears, but he stays one mile, four furlongs really well and I think he’ll stay [the extra two furlongs]. He was strong at the line at York and it took Martin [Dwyer – jockey] a while to pull him up.
“I’m not worried about the ground either, I think it will be perfect. He’s the first good horse I’ve had where I’m not worried about it being this or that, because I think he’d handle anything. He’s won on heavy and on hard, so the ground isn’t a problem.”
“If he doesn’t stay then it’s not the end of the world, we’ve had a go and we’ll drop him back to a mile and a quarter for the Champion Stakes on British Champions Day; that’s where he’ll go next in any case,” Muir told tote.co.uk.
“Martin told me he went to Royal Ascot a boy but went to York a man and he’s growing up all the time. We won’t be taking him abroad this year as I can’t afford to have staff quarantined and things like that. All being well he’ll go to Ascot after Doncaster and that’ll be him for the year. I was never going to overrun him this year. Next year you will see the finished article.”
“He looked amazing coming back in this morning after his exercise. He did a bit of work last Friday and just did what he always does – goes through the motions and lobs along, but then quickens right to the top of the gallops. He just moves so well, he came back in with a lot of grace and presence. He’s fit and ready to go.”
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