Pyledriver surprised bettors with a $41.80 upset in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes on opening day at Royal Ascot, defeating Mohican Heights (David Simcock) and the highly-regarded Aidan O’Brien trainee Mogul. Now, Pyledriver will try to continue his fairytale campaign in Saturday’s Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom.
The Harbour Watch colt was a £10,000 (US$14,006) RNA at the 2017 Tattersalls December Foal Sale, and his trio of breeders, Guy and Hugh Leach and Roger Devlin, decided to keep him in training with William Muir.
Pyledriver rewarded that faith with a win in a listed stakes race as a juvenile, and the colt began his 2020 season with a staying-on second behind Berlin Tango in the G3 Classic Trial at Kempton Park on June 3.
The June 16 King Edward victory was especially sweet for Muir, whose only previous winner at the Royal Meeting had been 18 years prior when Zargus landed the Balmoral Handicap. It was also the eighth Royal win for his jockey, Martin Dwyer, who is Muir’s son in law.
Dwyer won the Derby in 2006 aboard Sir Percy, so his experience and the colt’s penchant for wet ground could lead to an upset on Saturday.
“We could not have been happier with Pyledriver at Ascot and he has come out of the race really well,” Muir said. “I said from Ascot that he had to come right back to his best at home [if he is to run at Epsom]. That includes putting weight on and he has done that.
“We thought Pyledriver was a good horse at the beginning of the year, although because of the season and how it has turned out, we are able to have an Investec Derby runner, something which might not have happened in an ordinary year because he would have to have been supplemented.
“Martin [Dwyer, jockey] will have a sit on him again on Tuesday morning, but he will just have a normal routine between now and the race. He is fit and healthy, and we will just keep him right.
“There are one or two very strong horses in the Derby, but he has not done anything wrong. His time was good at Royal Ascot and he has come out of the race well. Everybody is excited, and we are really looking forward to it.”
Bookmakers have Pyledriver sixth in the Derby betting at 16-1 thus far.
“I’m realistic on the chance,” co-owner Guy Leach told The Guardian. “There’s obviously a lot of other good horses. But we’re just delighted to be there and he just keeps surpassing all expectations. You just hope he gets a clean run.”
— Nick Lightfoot (@Nick__lightfoot) June 29, 2020
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