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Muir confident Pyledriver is 'a better horse now than he's ever been'

Pyledriver: Newmarket comeback is the plan
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William Muir is confident that ignoring the advice of an old friend and BHA official will not come back to haunt him as he ponders what Pyledriver – one of last year's feelgood stories – can achieve this year.

Owned by the La Pyle Partnership, Pyledriver was the horse no-one wanted at the sales as a foal, so he went into training with Muir, shining in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and York's Great Voltigeur before a cracking third in the St Leger.

He was then a below-par seventh when well beaten in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, but the Lambourn trainer was not too disappointed with that effort, especially as recent Saudi Cup winner Mishriff was in behind.

Watch Pyldriver win the Great Voltigeur

There might be an 'I told you so' the next time he meets pal Willie Jardine, however. "I think he ran too well in the St Leger over a trip that might have been too far at the time and it left its mark," Muir said. 

"I was told that by a very good friend of mine, Willie Jardine, who was assistant to Henry Cecil and is now a BHA starter.

"He stopped me at Chelmsford one night and said, 'Will, don't run him again'. I said, 'Why? He's bouncing'. He'd told me he'd seen plenty of horses run well in the St Leger and then thought they were fine, but ran rubbish because the Leger leaves its mark.

"Pyledriver ran flat at Ascot but finished in front of Mishriff. He's stronger now and started racing at Kempton last year off about 454kg. He finished at Ascot on 470kg and just after Christmas he was 522kg.

"He will come back down and could be close to 470kg when he races, but he just looks stronger; he's thicker and he's gone from being a gangly teenager to a man."

William Muir with Pyledriver at his yard last year

Drooling over the condition of his stable star, Muir, who has the colt's three-year-old New Approach sister and two-year-old Oasis Dream brother at his Linkslade Stables, added: "He's sensational at the moment.

"He stayed with me over the winter as most colts will stay in a racing yard and be ridden, and he knows he's a colt!

"I turned him out in the field with some of the old boys and he was going out with Alpen Wolf, who is 26, but then he got a bit rough and it was like junior was taking over, running him around a bit.

"He'd go on the walker for a good time and then go out in the field in the afternoon for four hours and he absolutely thrived; he looks fantastic.

"We've had the plan in place since last season and he'll go to Newmarket for the Jockey Club Stakes on Guineas weekend, then Epsom for the Coronation Cup, followed by the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot and then back there for the King George.

"He's a better horse now than he's ever been and he was always going to be. He was still a shell of a horse last year, big and tall and just filling his frame. He lost his strength in his last race as a two-year-old as well, while the ground at Ascot in the Champion Stakes was very deep."

More to read:

Dream horse Pyledriver downs millionaire colts to set up Group 1 bid

Pyledriver proves the doubters wrong with surprise success for Muir and Dwyer

The week in words: 'Pyledriver has already won the Irish Guineas in my head!'

Saudi Cup glory for Mishriff as son of Make Believe revels on Riyadh dirt track 

St Leger report: Tom Marquand on the spot again as Galileo Chrome puts O'Brien in record books

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He got a bit rough and it was like junior was taking over, running him around a bit
E.W. Terms