Racegoers at Lingfield will be in for a treat when Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver struts his stuff in the Betway Churchill Stakes at the weekend.
The Group One scorer had been in the mix for a top-level race in Germany, but he has been off the track since beating Al Aasy at Epsom in June, and William Muir – who trains the four-year-old in partnership with Chris Grassick – decided he would be better suited to staying at home as he prepares for his main aim, the Hong Kong Vase.
After Pyledriver goes to Hong Kong, Muir plans to rack up plenty more air miles – with targets in Saudi Arabia and Dubai also on the horizon.
He said: “We decided after Martin (Dwyer) rode him on Tuesday not to go to Germany.
“Martin asked what our target was – I told him the Hong Kong Vase, and he said that he’d run well in Germany but he’d come on for the run.
“The train we’d planned to take was cancelled, so we’d have to have gone via ferry and we thought we’d go to Lingfield on Saturday instead. While that is not his ideal trip (10 furlongs), we’ll use it as a prep for Hong Kong.
“It’s the sort of thing the big trainers do quite often, run them over a trip short of their best so it doesn’t push them as much. He’ll give everything, as he always does, but Martin felt a run would put him spot on – and he said he’s never felt as strong.
“It was only a minor setback he had – we went through the exact programme the vet said, and we’ve not had a hiccup or anything. But our main target had to be the Hong Kong Vase, and then his winter campaign starts, Saudi in February and then Dubai – three very big races.”
He added: “To have started off throwing him straight back into a Group One may have been tough on him. I was also worried about the ground, but in fairness it’s good out there. I think he’d have gone close if we’d gone, but Martin just felt he’d come on for a run.
“He’s won a Group One. He’s going to be a horse to campaign all around the world now. Had it been a week later, I might have gone to Germany, but I’m looking forward to Lingfield now.”