BRITISH TRAINER William Muir is aiming recent Lingfield Listed race winner Pyledriver towards the Saudi Cup meeting where his options include the $20 million Group 1 Saudi Cup and the $1.5 million Group 3 Neom Turf Cup. The 4yo landed the Listed Churchill Stakes at the allweather track on his first run since winning the Group 1 Coronation Cup on Oaks Day at Epsom in June.
Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, will now send Pyledriver for the Hong Kong Vase on 12 December before a possible tilt at the world’s most valuable race at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Saturday, 26 February. Pyledriver missed his intended big-race summer targets with a pulled muscle, meaning he heads into a worldwide campaign as a relatively fresh horse.
Muir said: “His Lingfield win was exactly what we wanted to happen, probably a little bit more. “Our plan, to start with, was to go to Germany for the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Bayern the previous week. We knew he would be competitive but we also knew he wasn’t 100 % fit. With the long journey on a horse box and the race, it might just have taken the edge off him.
“The Churchill Stakes wasn’t ideal; we had to give away a 7 lb penalty, but we thought it would be better as a prep race. The race went perfectly and it was a great performance. He’s taken it well and come out of the race fantastically.” The frustrations of his summer campaign, when he was ruled out of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes just days before the prestigious Ascot Group One contest, could turn out to be a blessing in disguise as Pyledriver embarks on his globetrotting adventures.
Muir added: “It was frustrating but it wasn’t worrying because it wasn’t really an injury, it was more of a niggle. Because he’s such a good horse, you could have turned a niggle into a big problem if we hadn’t done exactly what was right to do. “I think he’d have gone very close in the King George. The last piece of work he did before the race was unbelievable, the way he looked and travelled. Maybe, it was meant to be, and this winter campaign is where it happens. We certainly hope so!”