Tag Archive for: Willie Muir

Pyledriver ‘in the right place’ for Coronation Cup repeat

Willie Muir is confident he has Pyledriver exactly where he wants him as he bids to follow up last year’s success in the DahlBury Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

With heavy showers over the past few days, easing ground should prove no detriment to the five-year-old, who was an unlucky fourth in the Dubai Sheema Classic, having encountered traffic problems under Frankie Dettori on his last run at Meydan.

Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, said: “It was heavy ground last year. The first time he ran it was firm. He is the only horse who, when you go to bed, you are not thinking, ‘Oh, we’ve got a big chance, I hope it doesn’t rain’.

“If it pours down and it was heavy, it wouldn’t inconvenience him.”

Making his return after a two-month break, Muir insists the Harbour Watch gelding will not lack for fitness, having given him a recent piece of work at Newbury over a similar mile-and-a-half trip.

“I was buzzing after his piece of work the other day,” said the Lambourn handler. “I didn’t go to Newbury to break the land speed record. I just know how well he was when he went round that track.

“He finished full of running and I came off there buzzing, because that was exactly what I wanted – it was fantastic. He has come back and had two good bits of work since and is in great shape.

“If we are exactly where I think he is, then we are at the right place. ”

Manobo lost his unbeaten record when beaten half a length in the Group Two Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March over a two-mile distance that he failed to see out.

Manobo had a spin around Epsom at the recent Cazoo Derby gallops morning
Manobo had a spin around Epsom at the recent Cazoo Derby gallops morning (John Walton/PA)

Though yet to tackle a top-level contest, his trainer Charlie Appleby feels the drop back in trip will aid his chance.

“He was lit up and keen, and over-travelling in Dubai,” Appleby told Godolphin.com.

“Prior to the Super Saturday when he won the Nad Al Sheba so impressively, I had toyed with running him in the City Of Gold over a mile and a half with potentially him stepping up to being a Sheema Classic horse, but a lot of that was being built around what Yibir was doing at the same time back in the UK.

“But he filled that slot for the Sheema Classic, so we stepped Manobo up in trip for the Gold Cup. He doesn’t stay a grinding two miles for sure. Dropping back to a mile and a half is not a concern for me. He is an exciting horse.”

Aidan O’Brien, who has won this race a record eight times, the last coming in 2017 with Highland Reel, is represented by narrow Tattersalls Gold Cup runner-up High Definition, who seeks his first success since his juvenile campaign.

High Definition (left) was only just denied by Alenquer at the Curragh
High Definition (left) was only just denied by Alenquer at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

It was a career-best effort from the former Derby favourite at the Curragh, only being caught close home by Alenquer.

His jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair: “You look at his record at this trip, and beyond, and he has his stamina to fully prove against guaranteed stayers, but hopefully he is the coming force in the race after his excellent effort in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and it won’t be any problem.

“That was a strong Group One, with State Of Rest and Lord North in behind him as he just got nailed close home by Alenquer, and that puts him right into the form mix here. There is no stand-out in this contest – for all last year’s winner Pyledriver probably sets the standard at his best – and you can pick holes in them to all varying degrees, so he certainly is in there with a live shot.

“The Curragh run was very encouraging.”

Owen Burrows saddles Hukum, who won the Dubai City Of Gold before finishing a close-up seventh off a muddling pace in the Sheema Classic.

“Since he has come back from Dubai I have been very pleased with him,” said Burrows.

“He was only beaten a length and three-quarters in the Dubai Sheema Classic and you could argue that was the best run of his life against top-class horses.

“He is a horse who travels through his races, and he is an experienced horse and he’s been around Goodwood, so I can’t be too concerned about the track. He is a well-balanced horse who travels strongly in his races, so I hope that will stand him in good stead.

Living Legend’s three-year-old campaign was prematurely curtailed by a serious tendon injury but has won his last three starts for Mark and Charlie Johnston, including the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in April.

However, the recent rain may play against the six-year-old son of Camelot, according to Mark Johnston.

“Obviously, we are not happy about the ground. It is a big disappointment for races like this when the ground is soft,” he said.

“Sadly it seems to be a trend these days with watering all the time leading up to these races and we have a few heavy showers and suddenly we have got soft ground. It is not ideal for either Living Legend or Royal Patronage (who runs in the Cazoo Derby).

“Apart from the ground, this is obviously a big punt, as we have supplemented him at a cost of £25,000, but the horse has done enough this year to warrant it.

Palavecino at Kempton
Palavecino at Kempton (Mark Cranham/PA)

Brian Meehan’s string in in fine fettle at present and the Manton handler feels Palavecino may be able to outrun his current odds of 80-1 following his all-weather success in a decent Lingfield handicap when last seen in January.

“He is fresh and well and got a great chance of being in the money,” said Meehan.

“He will be very comfortable around Epsom, as well, and he’ll be fine on the ground.”

Dwyer facing lengthy absence with knee surgery scheduled

Derby-winning jockey Martin Dwyer looks set to be out for the rest of the season as he prepares for knee surgery.

The 46-year-old, who partnered Sir Percy to Epsom Classic glory in 2006, suffered a torn ACL last month in a fall on the gallops and will undergo an operation in the next couple of weeks, according to trainer William Muir.

Dwyer, who is married to Muir’s daughter, Claire, was preparing to ride the classy Pyledriver in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic when he was hurt riding out for Brian Meehan.

The rider, an ardent Everton fan, twisted his knee when a leather iron broke, and Muir, who jointly holds a licence with Chris Grassick, suspects he will be out for the long haul.

“He’s not playing for Everton at the minute – although they might need him,” quipped Muir.

“He is having plenty of physio down at Oaksey House (rehabilitation and fitness centre in Lambourn) before the operation, because they wanted to take the inflammation away as much as they could before they operate.

“He is having the operation in early May. He is definitely having the ACL operation. He is a bit down, because he can’t do anything. He is in a leg brace, what can you do?

“He is a bit fed up with life and Everton are playing so well! The fact that Liverpool are doing well doesn’t help his mood, either.”

Martin Dwyer enjoyed Derby glory with Sir Percy
Martin Dwyer enjoyed Derby glory with Sir Percy (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Frankie Dettori deputised for Dwyer when Pyledriver suffered a luckless passage in being beaten a length by Shahryar in the Sheema Classic at Meydan and he looks set to retain the ride when the five-year-old bids to defend his Coronation Cup title at Epsom on June 3.

Muir said he could not estimate a timeframe for how long the stable jockey will be sidelined.

“I can’t answer how long he will be out for,” admitted Muir.

“It depends on how quickly he will recover, but he is a pretty tough lad. I think he has to have it screwed or stapled and they will see what the damage is when they operate. It will take a little time to recover.

He added: “Pyledriver is still on course for Epsom. That’s the plan. We are working hard.”