Pyledriver (18/1) beat Torquator Tasso and Mishriff to win Group One King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday; favourite Westover finishes fifth of six for Ralph Beckett and Colin Keane
Saturday 23 July 2022 16:47, UK
Pyledriver produced the performance of a lifetime to cause a shock in the King George at Ascot on Saturday.
Sent off an 18/1 shot for the midsummer Group One feature, William Muir and Chris Grassick's star was seen by many as the outsider of the six runners.
It is a measure of the strength of the field that Pyledriver was so widely unconsidered, despite having won at Group One level in last year's Coronation Cup and finished second when defending his Epsom crown last month.
See the latest horse racing news, interviews and features from Sky Sports Racing
There was drama from the off as Mishriff stumbled out of the starting stalls and had to make up ground early, while favourite Westover - winner of the Irish Derby on his previous start - struggled to land a blow.
PJ McDonald, who came in for the ride on Pyledriver in the absence of the injured Martin Dwyer, sent his mount forward as the field straightened for home, chased by Germany's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso, but no one could catch the winner as he sprinted clear to win by just under three lengths.
Torquator Tasso came home second, ahead of Mishriff and Broome, with Westover fifth and Emily Upjohn last.
McDonald told Sky Sports Racing: "I can't believe I've won a King George, it's absolutely unbelievable.
"It was so easy! I got a nice position and he filled himself coming up the hill. He's won nicely.
"I went over the race 20 times in my head and it couldn't have gone better than that. What an achievement.
"You think days like that are going to pass you by and you're getting to the end because horses like that are hard to find.
"It's a pity that it's at Martin's [Dwyer] expense because he's his ride. I'll be forever grateful to him."
One man who was not surprised by Pyledriver's performance was co-trainer Muir.
He said: "I honestly believed I'd win from two weeks ago," said Muir. "I'd seen him do a piece of work - like last year when he worked with Pogo.
"Everyone will say 'what a great training performance from Willie Muir and Chris Grassick,' but let's not take too much away - Jeta (Ram, work rider) does most of it. He rides him and every single morning I ask him, 'what shall we do today,
"I thought we'd do a good, strong piece of work and he said 'I thought I'd give him a little bit stronger' - giving him seven furlongs and give him seven lengths to make up and he caught him. The seven-furlong horse is very good.
"I'm driving the box back - I don't get away with anything! I've said I never wanted to cry, but I want to cry today.
Never miss a story with all the latest racing news, interviews and features on your phone. Find out more
"I thought for the last two weeks we'd win it. I didn't care what was in it. I know they say Westover was fantastic in the Irish Derby. I know they say Emily Upjohn was terrific, but we know this horse is a very, very good horse.
"He was just showing everything at home - all the signs."