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Pyledriver surprises King George rivals with clear-cut Ascot success

Pyledriver ran out a surprise winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

A small but select field of six assembled for the midsummer showpiece, with much of the pre-race attention focussing on runaway Irish Derby winner Westover and John and Thady Gosden’s pair of globetrotting star Mishriff and Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn.

It is a measure of the strength of the field that William Muir and Chris Grassick’s stable star Pyledriver was a widely unconsidered 18-1 shot, despite having won at Group One level in last year’s Coronation Cup and finished second when defending his Epsom crown last month.

There was drama from the off, with last year’s runner-up Mishriff standing still when the stalls opened and losing several lengths as a result, while Westover and Broome took each other on in front.

With that pair seemingly softening each other up, Pyledriver – ridden by former jump jockey PJ McDonald – got a lovely tow into the race and moved to the lead in the home straight.

German raider Torquator Tasso, a shock winner of last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, came from out of the pack to try to challenge, but Pyledriver never really looked in any danger of being reeled in and passed the post with two and three-quarter lengths in hand.

Torquator Tasso was a clear second, with Mishriff some eight lengths further behind in third.

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