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photo from a rainy epsom oaks day
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On a day that racecourse bookmakers and paying customers were allowed back on course, there were two tremendous stories emanating from the two feature races. Pyledriver provided the ‘fairy tale’ victory that racing thrives on by winning the Group 1 Coral Coronation Cup at a rain-soaked Epsom. The winner, famously previously led out of a sales ring unsold at £10,000, had to fight back on the rail after being headed by the 7/4 favourite Al Aasy but did so tenaciously to win by a neck under jockey Martin Dwyer. The winning jockey was very emotional after the race, he told ITV Racing ‘On a personal level, I have got to say there has been times when I’ve hated racing, hated it, had bad days and driven home in a bad mood. But days like this, I cannot describe in words what I’m feeling inside, it’s just euphoria.’ Clearly choked up he added ‘This is a wonderful sport, anyone can achieve things, great things. I am nearly crying what’s wrong with me!

Pyledriver’s trainer Willie Muir was scoring his first Group One success, he told reporters after the race, ‘I started training in 1990 and I’ve got touched of smidgens in Group 1’s. Stepper Point got beat in two Group 1’s by a nose, and I think it was a head, and a neck in the King’s Stand. Averti got beat in a photo finish in the Abbaye’.

I’ve never had a Group 1 winner, but this is it and this is what we do it for. To get this type of horse this is why we do it. I am lucky as we have got it and my partner Chris Grassick has only been at the job five minutes and he has got a Group One winner. I came here thinking I’d win. We had a meeting with the owners yesterday at the Leigh Delamere services and if you had seen us and thought we were footballers they are trying to tap this footballer up to get him to move to a different club. We were like cloak and dagger what we were going to do’.

We decided we were going to make the running and change the bridle because we thought let’s try and give him a little bit of a hand. Today is the day I wanted to win a Group 1 and so it proved. He was very brave, but he is brave.’ 

epsom oaks day

William Haggas, the trainer of the runner-up is quoted as saying, ‘He came to win and didn’t win. I am disappointed he was beaten, but it would be very hard to suggest it was lack of resolution. He is only a Group 3 winner and he has run a very good race to be beaten only a neck in a Group 1.  He’s got more to offer I feel.’

Aidan O’Brien trainer of the third-placed Japan and sixth-placed Mogul observed, ‘They ran well. The ground just turned for both of them, but they ran well. Japan handles it better than Mogul but neither of them like it really.

Bookmaker Star Sports would have been happy to see Pyledriver do the business having laid an eye-water bet of £600,000 – £300,000 Japan. 

The Cazoo Oaks saw what could possibly be the Classic victory of a lifetime for many racing fans. Aidan O’Brien’s filly Snowfall under Frankie Dettori won by an astonishing 16 lengths at odds of 11/2 from 50/1 chance Mystery Angel.  The winner’s stablemates 20/1 chance Divinely finished third and 5/2 favourite Santa Barbara fifth. 

Speaking to Racing UK after the race Frankie Dettori said ‘I wanted to get a better position, but they were going way too fast, so I was able to stay on the fresh ground and let them get on with it then pick up the pieces, when I came around Tattenham I was swinging off it and had had everything beat. I waited until the two and had a glance, I had everything beat in front, the only one I wasn’t sure about was Santa Barbara, but there was daylight, I just took off.

The winning trainer Aidan O’Brien is quoted as saying ‘We really thought she was a proper Group One filly last year, and she kept disappointing. Little things happened to her in races, and stuff like that. But she won the Musidora very impressively. You are never sure, but she has a lot of class’. 

Once again, one of the UK’s biggest independent bookmakers and large layers Star Sports were very pleased with the result. They reported having laid bets of £250,000 and £100,000 at 5/2 the fifth-placed favourite Santa Barbara. 

Will they have kept it after Derby Day? Watch this space!

Simon Nott

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