By Jon Lees
GB: William Muir is committed to making Pyledriver his first runner in the Investec Derby and says he might never have a better chance of winning the Classic.
Lambourn trainer Muir wanted to see how the colt recovered from his defeat of Arthur’s Kingdom, Mohican Heights and Mogul in the G2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot before deciding on a trip to Epsom on July 4.
And the early signs are positive that the son of Harbour Watch, a 10,000gns buy back when offered for sale as a foal, will be among the field for next month’s Epsom Classic under 2006 Derby-winning rider Martin Dwyer, the trainer’s son-in-law.
“He has come out of it awfully well, is moving beautifully and eating well, so our thoughts are going to go towards the Derby as long as he continues the way he is,” said Muir. “We will never have an opportunity like this, because in other years we would have had to supplement.”
At a top-priced 20-1, Pyledriver is longer odds for the Derby than one of the horses he beat by nearly five lengths at Ascot, Mogul. The Aidan O’Brien trained colt originally cost his connections 3.4 million guineas.
“If my horse had been trained by Aidan O’Brien or John Gosden he wouldn’t be as big a price for the Derby,” said Muir. “When I looked at the betting Mogul was 8-1 and we are 16-1. That’s not a problem for me.
“But If you think Frankly Darling was impressive in the Ribblesdale, our horse ran a quicker time, so you can’t knock him. He kicked plenty early to prove he definitely stays a mile and a half. He was impressive. I probably rate him higher than others would, but I think it was a really good performance.”
In 29 years training Muir, 62, has yet to win a G1 but there have been near-misses. Averti was beaten a head in the 1997 Nunthorpe Stakes and Stepper Point finished second in both the King’s Stand Stakes and Nunthorpe in 2014.
“We are not a big stable,” he said. “We have around 30 horses. We can take more but I am not as fashionable as the young boys now, which is fair enough. We look to buy and collect a nice bunch of horses and win what we can.
“Pyledriver is a horse we want at this time of our career. We proved we can do it with any kind of horse but when you’ve been doing it for quite a long time, people forget. It’s nice they can be reminded of it occasionally – that if you get the right type of animal you can produce the goods.
“Pyledriver has the right credentials and attitude to be a good horse so we are going to plan to go to Epsom unless he tells me no. If he says ‘I’ve not got over this’ by the middle of next week then we will take our time because he has a massive future.”
He added: “The way he has taken it so far I think he will be fine. I went to see him after I got back on Wednesday night and he bit me on the arm. I said, ‘You can have that one son’. He is in good form.”