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Horse Racing: Muir not shocked by Pyledriver success

Pyledriver delivered a decisive knockout blow to win the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, but it didn't shock trainer William Muir.

The Classic generation were expected to come to the fore in the Ascot showpiece, but it was Pyledriver and Arc winner Torquator Tasso who did best.

Frankie Dettori also enjoyed a big-race winner, while Jim Crowley warmed up for a big week with Listed success at Pontefract on Sunday and Godolphin newcomer Highbank was 'like a Ferrari' in his debut victory at Newmarket.

Muir's charge Pyle's it on in King George

Pyledriver has been quite the servant to joint-trainer William Muir and he was already a Group 1 winner going into Saturday.

However, few anticipated that he'd emerge best in a star-studded King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where he was staring down winners of the Irish Derby, Juddmonte International and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, as well as The Oaks second.

Westover and Emily Upjohn, the leading three-year-olds in the race, were only fifth and sixth, while the latter's stablemate Mishriff blew the start and could never land a serious blow, leaving Arc winner Torquator Tasso to vainly chase home Pyledriver.

The winner had two and three-quarter lengths in hand under PJ McDonald and has earned a quote of 14/1 for Arc glory himself come Sunday 2nd October at Longchamp.

One man was not left stunned by the Ascot outcome, that was Muir.

"I knew he was going to win two weeks ago," said the handler. "He did a strong piece of work with a good seven-furlong horse. He gave him seven lengths but caught up and went away from him.

"I didn't care who was running. I know they said Westover was fantastic in the Irish Derby and they thought Emily Upjohn was terrific, but we also knew our horse was very talented."

Connections of Torquator Tasso were satisfied with second and all roads once more lead to Paris, where the German-based star is 10/1 to defend his Arc crown in the autumn.

With quick ground at Ascot far from favourable, the Torquator Tasso camp were content with their lot, finishing eight lengths clear of Mishriff back in third.

Beckett thrilled with thriving Lezoo

Ralph Beckett admitted the thriving nature of his filly Lezoo was a chief factor in electing to run her in the Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Owned by Marc Chan And Andrew Rosen, friends of Frankie Dettori, punters were treated a flying dismount from the veteran pilot after Lezoo justified favouritism in the Group 3 sprint.

It was her fourth run in six weeks since a debut success at Bath and her only defeat came in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket this month, when she was a touch unfortunate in finishing second.

The Lowther could still be next up in August for a filly trading at 20/1 in the market for next year's 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

"She's had four runs in a matter of weeks. She's just thrived on her racing," said Beckett. "I didn't intend to run her here after Newmarket and thought we'd go for the Lowther, but when the ball is there at your feet, it's best to try to kick it."

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Crowley warms up with Ponte win

Jim Crowley can look forward to partnering 2/11 Baaeed in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on Wednesday and the former champion jockey warmed up for his date with that unbeaten star by landing the feature race at Pontefract on Sunday.

A confident Crowley came from last to first to take the Listed Pomfret Stakes by a length and a half on the Owen Burrows-trained Alflaila in the same Shadwell colours which Baaeed will sport on Wednesday.

Alflaila had run second behind Mighty Ulysses at Newmarket earlier in the month and Crowley believes there's more to come from the Dark Angel colt.

"He's not a bad horse. He's a three-year-old who was getting lumps of weight, but it was a tidy race and he's progressive, he said.

"He ran a lovely race last time at Newmarket and was beaten by a very good horse. Now he's got his head in front and I hope he'll keep progressing."

Look out for Godolphin's new 'Ferrari'

With a 750,000 guineas price tag, there was always going to be plenty anticipation for Charlie Appleby's Kingman colt Highbank when he made the racecourse.

He delivered at Newmarket on Saturday, quickening away in stylish fashion for a three-and-three-quarter-length win over another Appleby inmate, the well-touted Bold Act in second spot.

Highbank has earned himself a quote of 20/1 to win the 2000 Guineas back at Headquarters next season and rider Jack Mitchell certainly felt there was no shortage of power underneath him in this opening win.

"He was very green going down to the start, but he jumped well. He got a little lost early - we went quick for the first furlong - but the field eventually stacked up and he got into a good rhythm," he stated.

"When I gave him a squeeze it was like dropping two gears in a Ferrari - he was away and gone."

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