William Muir feels Pyledriver has the class to overcome his wide draw in the Neom Turf Cup at Riyadh on Saturday.
Last year’s Coronation Cup victor and Hong Kong Vase runner-up has been drawn widest of all in berth 14 of the 14 challengers for the Group Three contest.
Though the position is not ideal, Muir is still hopeful the the tactile versatility of the five-year-old will see him remain competitive.
“He’s probably not been favoured with the draw but that’s life, he’s been drawn in stall 14 and we’ll have to overcome that as best we can,” said Muir, who trains Pyledriver jointly with Chris Grassick.
“Martin (Dwyer, jockey) knows him like the back of his hand. There’s no special way we have to ride him. I’ve trained horses for a long time and you always have a way that doesn’t suit, but with this horse it doesn’t matter about ground, it doesn’t matter about track, it doesn’t matter how you ride him.
“In the early part of his career, like at Ascot and at York and in the St Leger, we were riding him from the back. In the Coronation Cup and at Lingfield we were just in behind the leader.
“He hasn’t got a specific way you’ve got to do things so that lends itself from that draw, we can see what happens and just make a plan once the gates open.”
Pyledriver’s rivals include Harrovian, whom he beat by half a length at Lingfield in November.
“Harrovian is training very well,” said his co-trainer Thady Gosden. “He’s really enjoying himself out here. You can see a change in the horse in the last couple of days.
“These geldings come out here into the heat and the sunshine and get a little bit more personal attention and I think he is enjoying being pampered a bit.”
Connections of Solid Stone report the Sir Michael Stoute-trained six-year-old to have had a fine preparation.
“Sir Michael was very happy with his build up at home. He never missed a beat. He came out here and settled in well, and he’s a very professional horse – there’s no issue there,” said former jockey Ted Durcan.
“He’s in stall 11 and I suppose the draw could have been a bit kinder, but it’s a very fair racetrack so there won’t be any excuses.”
In contrast, trainer Saeed bin Suroor feels Passion And Glory has been handed a fine barrier draw in stall five.
“Passion And Glory has a good draw and I think the track is good for him,” he said.
“His form in England is better than what he showed us his last two times in Dubai, but maybe he needed those races and now there is no excuse for him because he is in the right race and we’ll see how he goes.”
George Boughey is optimistic Oscula can put it up to the boys in the Saudi Derby.
“If she’s within shouting distance at halfway, she is resilient and she’s tough. She’s not one to show brilliant finishing speed, but she hits the line,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“She’s in the UAE Derby. She could go for that afterwards if she runs well in this. It’s one step at a time.
“She’s been to France a few times and it does help. She eats and drinks and trains. There’s not much more you can ask for.
“It’s just if she can take on the colts and those with the dirt pedigrees. Working on it here is the quickest she’s ever gone on it. They (Americans) were bred on it and have raced on it all their lives.”
Trainer Stan Moore was delighted with the way The Wizard Of Eye took to the track in a workout and can see last year’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere fifth running creditably.
“John (Egan, jockey) was very happy with him. It was a nice bit of exercise on the dirt, he handles it well, and he is very relaxed,” he said.
“He has a good draw (three), he is healthy and well, it has all come together as we would have hoped and we are very hopeful of a big run.”
Undoubtedly setting the standard is the Bob Baffert-trained Pinehurst, a Grade One winner last year and second on his reappearance in the San Vincente Stakes at Santa Anita.
“We have a lot of really nice horses here and we were looking for something around one turn for him,” Baffert said.
“I think he’s slightly better at one than two turns. When he won the Del Mar Futurity he was very impressive around one turn, but then when I stretched him out in the Breeders’ Cup, he wasn’t that effective.
“I brought him back to one turn again in the San Vicente and he ran a big race and came out of it well. I really felt that he had that experience to handle this kind of race. I thought he would maybe ship well and be a tougher kind of horse who could handle something like this.”