William Muir is counting down the days to the Hong Kong Vase on December 12 following Pyledriver’s perfect return to action at Lingfield on Saturday.
The four-year-old had been off the track since winning the Coronation Cup in early June and he defied a penalty for that success as he made his comeback from an injury lay-off.
Pyledriver steps back up to that 12-furlong trip next month in a bid for more glory at the top level after taking the Listed Churchill Stakes was over a mile and a quarter.
“He was fantastic on Sunday morning. He moves so beautifully and he’s like a dressage horse the way he trots away. He’s got so much bounce – he’s perfect,” said Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick.
“He lost a wee bit of weight but I thought he would. He was quite over his racing weight so I knew it would bring him down a little bit. He’ll put a bit back on then he’ll level off as to where we have to have him.
“He was 12 kilos above his racing weight for the Coronation Cup. And he was heavier when he went first time out to Newmarket and I said to everybody it wasn’t my main objective and he went there at 480 kilos. On Saturday, he was 489.”
Muir had been worried the lack of race-fitness might prove the difference between victory and defeat following his long absence.
“He’s such a competitive horse. You knew he’d run well but you thought if anything catches him out, it will be the race fitness at the end against race-fit horses, but it just showed he’s still all there and he didn’t get hurt before,” the Lambourn handler added.
“That’s the good thing. He never got hurt when he had this little setback, and it was small. I tried to emphasise to everybody it wasn’t much but I don’t want to make it a lot. If you’d have kept going you may have got way with it, or you may have ended up having a fairly big problem.”
Muir is going to Hong Kong to supervise Pyledriver’s final preparations.
“Hong Kong Vase is next. His plane goes on December 3. He’ll have to have a few days in quarantine when he gets there. He can walk round and do light exercise in the barn or in the quarantine area,” he added.
“Then we’ll have three or four days before the race to do what we’ve got to do.”