By Jon Lees
GB: Martin Dwyer believes a victory for Pyledriver in the Pertemps St Leger would provide the shot in the arm racing needs with a ‘good-news’ story in a crisis year blighted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Dwyer and Pyledriver get a second chance to prove their Classic pedigree when they line-up at Doncaster on Saturday for small-scale owners the La Pyle Partnership and trainer William Muir chasing his first G1 success.
The Royal Ascot winner was the victim of early scrimmaging in the Derby that cost him all chance of playing a part at Epsom.
But Pyledriver put that experience behind him with an impressive victory in the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York which has earned the colt joint-favouritism for the season’s final Classic alongside Irish Derby winner Santiago.
“I’ve had a few fancied horses in Classics before but not a favourite, if that’s what Pyledriver is,” said Dwyer, 45, who won the 2006 Derby on Sir Percy. “It’s exciting. I’m really looking forward to it. To ride a horse as good as him is what we all work so hard for.
“I was pleased he bounced out of Epsom and it didn’t knock his confidence because he nearly fell over in the Derby,” the jockey went on. “It was a messy race and when we went from one rail back to the other rail, I got wiped out and that was it. It was over before it barely started.”
At the time Dwyer described the York performance, where Pyledriver dismissed his opponents by three and a half lengths, as that of “a Group 1 horse in a Group 2 race”.
“He gave me the feel of a Group 1 horse,” he explained. “He powered away and beat a decent field decisively.”
Pyledriver was unfashionably bred by brothers Guy and Huw Leach and their friend Roger Devlin by Harbour Watch out of their jumping mare La Pyle and was bought back at auction for only 10,000gns.
Although Lambourn trainer Muir, Dwyer’s father-in-law, has had a number of near-misses in G1 races, he has never trained a prospect like Pyledriver.
“I think it’s a great story,” said Dwyer. “It’s what racing has really needed, this year more than any other. There is so much negativity, people going on about prize-money, and it’s difficult times.
“To prove you can come in and buy a horse for ten grand and compete at the top level is what is needed in these tough times to encourage owners to get into the sport.
“William is down to 20-odd horses now and in the past few years all of the good horses and all the success has been in the same hands. It gets a bit boring, and if it continued like that it would end up like Formula 1. It would keep the dream alive.”
The extra distance of the St Leger should not hinder Pyledriver, the jockey said. “It wouldn’t be the natural thing to go up in trip but it’s the last Classic so you’ve got to have a crack,” he said.
“As long as he relaxes well, I think he’ll stay. He has got gears and it should be good ground this year.”
Pertemps St Leger betting (Ladbrokes): 11-4 Pyledriver, Santiago, 7-2 Hukum, 13-2 Galileo Chrome, 9 Tiger Moth, 12 English King, Subjectivist, 16 Believe In Love, 20 bar