Only six protagonists went to post for Ascot’s July showpiece, the 1m4f King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes but it was undoubtedly a quality sextet with all bar one a previous Group One winner. However, once Pyledriver, the complete outsider, hit the front entering the final 2f the race was basically over, P J McDonald performing the steering in the colours of the La Pyle Partnership for trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick.
Victorious in the Group 1 Coronation Cup last year, the 5yo was runner-up trying to defend his crown in the same race 50 days earlier. An entire son of Harbour Watch, he has now won seven of his 18 starts and has earned more than £1,800,000, a most healthy return on the 10,000gns his breeders retained him for as a foal.
As well as his winning exploits he was also runner-up in December’s Hong Kong Vase and was considered unlucky by many when fourth at Meydan in March’s Dubai Sheema Classic. McDonald was aboard because Muir’s son-in-law Martin Dwyer is injured and Franke Dettori, who rode him at Meydan, was in opposition aboard Emily Upjohn who was disappointing and finished last. “I feel so sorry for Martin, these horses are so hard to come by,” the winning rider said. “It happened to me getting injured when I had Laurens and know what it feels like and what will be going through his head.
He’s an absolute gent and so supportive of me. He’s helped me out so much over the last week. “For me these are days you don’t think are going to happen. You work hard and sometimes think these chances aren’t going to come, and this one came to me by luck. I’m so grateful to William and the team and to this horse. That was as smooth as it can be. “The horse filled himself up going up the hill before the turn in and I just sat on him and I knew he was going to take some beating soon after. He was amazing.”