Muir retains faith in Pyledriver as he plots path to Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

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William Muir insists his confidence in Pyledriver has not been dented despite his King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes defeat, but is unsure if the six-year-old will run again before the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.

Owned by the La Pyle Partnership, Pyledriver was bidding to win the Ascot highlight for the second year running, but could finish only fifth behind Hukum.

He is entered in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Wednesday week, but another option is Kempton’s Unibet September Stakes next month.

Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, is open-minded about Pyledriver heading straight to Longchamp for the Arc, for which the son of Harbour Watch can be backed at 40-1. He said: “We need to make our minds up about whether we go to York or Kempton.

“One of the owners has thrown a little googly in there by suggesting we go straight to the Arc, so we’ll have a chat over the next few days. The horse is in good form though.”

Pyledriver, who is 20-1 for York’s International, had impressed in June’s Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, which was his first start since his King George triumph in 2022. However, in this year’s running he finished eight and three-quarters of a length behind the Owen Burrows-trained Hukum, who repelled Westover in a thrilling duel.

“I thought it was a great race and it was fantastic to be part of it,” Muir added. “It was great for Owen to win it and for Ralph [Beckett] that Westover ran so well, so I don’t want to take anything away from them. I was happy and Pyledriver has been very good at home since.”

The Coronation Cup winner of 2021 usually races over a mile and a half and would be dropping in trip in the International.

“That’s a little thing if we want to come back to a mile and two and a half furlongs, but it wouldn’t worry me and it wouldn’t worry PJ [McDonald],” Muir said. 

“If we went to Kempton on September 9 that is ideally situated for the Arc, but it also doesn’t matter if we go straight to the Arc. My confidence in him hasn’t been dented whatsoever. If we confirm him for York on Thursday, it’s likely he’ll run.”

Courtesy of Racing Post