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Haydock round-up: Muir eyeing Group One challenge for Pyledriver

Sat 7 Sep 2019

Pyledriver could test his powers at Group One level at Doncaster next month after claiming his second victory from three starts in the Ascendant Stakes at Haydock.

William Muir’s juvenile was a shock 50-1 winner on his racecourse debut at Salisbury in July, since when he had finished fourth in a soft ground Listed event at Newbury.

With conditions similarly testing on Merseyside, the son of Harbour Watch was a 14-1 shot in the hands of PJ McDonald, but was ultimately well on top as he passed the post a length and a quarter clear of Sound Of Cannons.

“I was really worried about the ground,” admitted Muir.

“He won on firm ground first time out. People said afterwards he looked slow, but the second horse went to Glorious Goodwood and just got touched off and the third, fourth and fifth have all won since.

“The ground at Newbury was tacky and I didn’t know whether to come today or not, but I work up at 5am and said ‘come on, let’s go’.”

A tilt at the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on October 26 could be next.

“PJ said he felt great. I said to him ‘I might give him plenty of time and take him straight to Doncaster’, and he said ‘there no reason not to’,” the trainer added.

Cieren Fallon secured the biggest winner of his fledgling riding career to date as the Ian Williams-trained Time To Study came out on top in a thrilling climax to the £100,000 Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup.

Crystal King looked to have stolen a march on his rivals after building up a huge early advantage, but began to tread water racing inside the final two furlongs and soon wilted.

After hitting the front, 7-1 shot Time To Study looked at the mercy of 5-2 favourite Alright Sunshine in the closing stages, but the latter hung left under pressure and Fallon’s mount battled back bravely to score by a neck.

Fallon’s father – six-times champion jockey Kieren Fallon – won the Old Newton Cup in 2002, and Fallon junior was delighted to get his name on the roll of honour.

He said: “It’s always a worry when a horse goes that far clear, but I knew he was using up a lot of energy and the ground is soft – it’s tiring out there.

“It’s good to get opportunities like this and I’m pleased to have made the most of it.”

Time To Study was cut to 20-1 from 33-1 for the Dubai Cesarewitch at Newmarket on October 12 by Paddy Power.

Williams said: “It was a great performance and he was very well ridden. It was quite nerve-wracking to watch – you thought the leader was going to come back, but you’re looking on and there’s two furlongs to go and he’s still 25 lengths clear!

“We were really intent on going for the Cesarewitch, but when soft ground came up we decided to come here first and it’s worked out lovely.

“Cieren’s claim was inevitably very useful – his judgement was incredible.

“We had provisionally booked him for the Cesarewitch, on the basis his boss didn’t need him anywhere else. This has turned out to be a nice stepping-stone.”

Ranch Hand is also a 20-1 shot for Cesarewitch after landing the Better Odds On The Betfair Exchange Handicap in the hands of title-chasing Oisin Murphy.

A dual winner at Southwell in the spring, Andrew Balding’s three-year-old had since seemingly had his limitations exposed in the Lingfield Derby Trial and the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket.

However, switched to handicap company, the 14-1 shot travelled strongly and powered home to score by two lengths from Trueshan.

Murphy said: “I’m very pleased. He’s a Kingsclere home-bred and he’s clearly a progressive hose.

“He won’t take a lot more racing this year, but he should make up into a nice stayer for next season.”

Trainer Ed Walker and jockey Liam Keniry combined to land the Betfair Exchange Be Friendly Handicap with 4-1 shot Maygold.

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