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'Racing is a wonderful sport' - emotional Dwyer claims Group 1 on Pyledriver

Pyledriver (Martin Dwyer, right) beats Al Aasy in the Coronation Cup
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A horse no-one wanted, a jockey who wonders why he is so often overlooked for the biggest races and a trainer who has waited 30 years for a Group 1 triumph stood proudly together in the winner's enclosure after the Coral Coronation Cup, with Pyledriver's success reminding everyone what joy sport can bring to those trying their hardest to succeed.

Pyledriver has come a long way since he was led out unsold for 10,000gns as a foal at the sales in 2017, adding a first Group 1 to his Group 2 triumphs in the King Edward VII Stakes and Great Voltigeur last year by digging in deep and repelling favourite Al Aasy under jockey Martin Dwyer for co-trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick.

It was a victory that left Dwyer, 45, feeling, by his own admission, strangely emotional after he added Epsom's third Group 1 to his wins in the 2003 Oaks on Casual Look and 2006 Derby on Sir Percy. 

"It was a tremendous race to ride in and I would imagine it would be the same to watch; they're two very tough horses," he said. "I don't know what came over me but I was a bit emotional.

"It's getting harder and harder as all the good horses are with the biggest trainers and I think that's why people like seeing horses like him and owners who are sporting getting the rewards as they're the underdogs.

"It's hard to get good rides, and when you do you feel like you end up defending yourself the whole time. So when it comes right and you win a good race you enjoy it that bit more."

Martin Dwyer: "I don't know what came over me but I was a bit emotional"

With Dwyer believing the better rides are becoming scarcer with the best horses routinely housed in the same small number of yards, he confessed that the pressure of delivering when given the chance, as he has been by the owners of Pyledriver – Guy and Huw Leach and Roger Devlin – was ever present.

"You get frustrated when you don't get the rides," he said. "People are saying things like 'why don't you use x, y or z to ride a horse, why are you using Martin Dwyer?.' That's sport and that's what happens and you have to fight your corner. 

"When I was young and just starting I was losing rides to jockeys like Pat Eddery and Walter Swinburn and being told that it was happening as people wanted more experienced riders and that I'd get my turn. Then when I got to 40 I started losing rides to younger jockeys! You can't beat experience."

The experience of trainer William Muir has been supplemented by the youth of Chris Grassick this season, but it was Muir on the scene at Epsom as he was finally able to celebrate a first Group 1 having started training in 1991.

William Muir: trainer was recording his first Group 1 success

"This is what we do it for," Muir said. "I've been waiting 30 years for this and my partner Chris has only been training five minutes and he's already won one! I came here thinking we'd win.

"The plan has been in place all year: Jockey Club Cup, here, Hardwicke, King George. I think we'll consider the Arc for him too – why not?"


Watch Pyledriver's victory in the Coronation Cup


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There have been times over the years when I have hated racing, but days like this make it all worthwhile
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