Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
PYLEDRIVER confirmed his wellbeing ahead of a lucrative international campaign with a tenacious victory a Listed contest at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
The victory delighted connections as the winner had not raced since landing the Grade 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs in early June.
In the intervening months Pyledriver was forced to miss big-race targets due to minor setbacks; but showed he had put those behind him with a typically gutsy display to prevail by half a length under Martin Dwyer in the 10-furlong Betway Churchill Stakes on Lingfield’s all-weather course.
This success sets up the William Muir and Chris Grassick-trained Pyledriver for an international campaign, with next month’s Group 1 Hong Kong Vase the immediate target.
Muir said: “Pyledriver has never let anybody down. He wasn’t fit today and we brought him here purposely to improve from it.
“Silvestre [de Sousa, rider of Fox Tal] wanted to go on and we got the perfect sit behind him. Martin said the gears our lad showed when they turned in…he was gone, and then he just got tired late on.
“He was 12 kilograms over his racing weight coming here today. It was the same at Newmarket at the start of the season, but I wasn’t worried he got beat that day because I knew he would improve. He has just given 7lb to race-fit horses and he wasn’t fit. It was a hell of a performance.
“Hong Kong is our main target and then beyond that we are looking at the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic. Why not have a go at the Saudi Cup? They reckon it is the nicest dirt track in the world. Ted Voute said it’s a fantastic surface and reckons this horse will love it.”
Dwyer said: “Pyledriver was a bit full of himself but that is to be expected after a lay-off. I was delighted with him. He travelled lovely and showed a good turn of foot off the bend.
“It worked out nicely with Silvestre making the pace and going a pretty decent lick. He is an exuberant runner this fella and I preferred to sit a few lengths off the leader rather than right behind him.
“He had a bit against him today, down in trip under a penalty. I think he was only 80 per cent fit, but this is a great stepping-stone to the big races.
“I chased him round the bend after the line because I wanted him to get something out of it. He has to go a mile and a half on the turf next in a month’s time. I wanted him to take his jacket off and do a bit of work today, so it means we don’t have to do tons with him between now and his next race.
“He is a Group 1 winner and a Group 1 horse. A lot of people have been following this horse over the last couple of years. He won on his debut at 50/1 and has been a real success story for his owner-breeders and the whole team.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.