Martin Dwyer is looking to bridge a 17-year gap when he teams up with Pyledriver in the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Dwyer vividly remembers December 2004 when Phoenix Reach gave him a landmark triumph in the Vase and he is know hoping for a repeat in the twilight of his career.
“Breaking through on the global stage is a massive moment for any jockey,” said Dwyer.
“I’m not one for wild celebrations, but I did wave the whip after passing the post. Frankie (Dettori) came across to congratulate me and I just remember the whole trip as a mind-blowing experience.”
Now Pyledriver is the apple not just of Dwyer’s eye but of all the team at the stable of William Muir and Chris Grassick.
“The first day I really knew we had something special was when he quickened so impressively to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer,” said Dwyer.
“We put a line through his run in a very messy Derby, but he destroyed his rivals under a penalty in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York and he’s come back in great heart this year to win the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Churchill Stakes at Lingfield last month.
“Of course, it was a blow that Pyledriver missed the summer with a muscle problem, but sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe the best is yet to come.”
Pyledriver lines up this weekend as the highest-rated horse in the field with an international rating of 121 and has beaten last year’s Vase hero Mogul in three of their four meetings, including the Coronation Cup.
“He’s like a schoolboy in class who has all the talent in the world but can look out of the window if he loses concentration,” Dwyer went on.
“There’s no way he would let me put his bridle on in a morning – and his groom Babu has plenty of bumps and bruises because of him – but that’s just Pyledriver. He knows how much talent he’s got and isn’t afraid to tell you.
“This might be the last time I get to ride in an Hong Kong international race. I hope it isn’t but you never know and that’s why this chance has to be grabbed with both hands.”