Pyledriver's win in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes gives Rae Guest hope of Sweet Solera Stakes glory with Divina Grace
Rae Guest insists the exploits of Pyledriver this summer have given him extra belief that Divina Grace could help end his own eight-year wait for a Group race winner in the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
The Newmarket handler has not tasted victory at Pattern race level since former stable stalwart Mirza claimed the second of his back-to-back victories in the Group 3 Prix du Petit Couvert at Paris-Longchamp in September 2014.
Despite his lengthy spell without a Group race winner Guest has plenty of big race wins on his CV, including the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, staged on the neighbouring Rowley Mile, which he claimed in 2008 with Serious Attitude.
But while Guest has endured a barren run at the top level, he believes the victory of the William Muir and Chris Grassick-trained Pyledriver in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month demonstrates that small yards can still mix it on the big stage.
He said: “We’ve had a very good run this year but although we have had over 30 Group and Listed winners, we’ve not had a Group winner for a while.
“Good horses are becoming harder to get hold of and we only have around 30 in training each year so to find one is harder than when having a yard of, say, 200 horses.
“As we all say we all do this to find a nice horse and we have had some very good horses like Mirza who did a great job for us and he was a pleasure to train in the past, but it would be nice to have another one.
“Pyledriver is the banner horse for smaller yards and it was great to see him win the King George. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t pleased to see him win. It was great for racing and great for a smaller yard. Pyledriver proves that we can all do it if given the right horses.”
Divina Grace finished second on her debut in a seven-furlong fillies maiden at the July Course in June, before going went one better over course and distance next time out with a battling success under Callum Shepherd.
Guest, who has already eclipsed last year’s total of 16 winners, acknowledges the step up in class but believes that this weekend’s contest fits in perfectly for the daughter of Golden Horn, with future plans including giving her a first start over a mile.
He said: “She is stepping up in class but they are all unexposed and there is no stand-out horse in the race. She is improving so we thought we will take our chance.
“I like them to have a nice introduction and I was pleased with her debut run as the winner (Fairy Cross) looked good before the race and she went on to be second in a Listed race next time.
“Although we were beaten just over four lengths it was a nice introduction. She only does what she has to do and she was still learning on her second run.
“She probably wants a bit further and we would probably go over a mile next time with her, but this is the right sort of race for her and it fits in just right.”