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Weekend Review: Pyledriver powers home to punish punters as England edge closer to Euros euphoria

Outside chance lands the Group 1 King George at Ascot, while Ferrari’s struggles continue and MVG wins dramatic darts final

Pyledriver secured a surprise victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot over the weekend as the pre-race protagonists failed to impress.

In one of flat racing’s highlights, the 18-1 outsider (opened 25/1 on course) pulled away from fellow long-shot Torquator Tasso and despite hanging to the left and then the right the five-year-old took the Group 1 by almost three lengths to give trainer William Muir the shock victory.

Irish Derby winner Westover, went into the race as 13/8 favourite but faded into fifth while Oaks runner-up Emily Upjohn (3-1) came last of the six in what was disappointing performances for the two three-year-old in the race.

Virgin Bet’s Janis Strauts said: “A small but select field of six runners were led by the warm favourite Westover at 13/8, who was the recent Irish Derby winner and third placed at Epsom. Second favourite was the filly Emily Upjohn, undoubtedly unlucky in the Epsom Oaks and recently rerouted here following transport problems to Ireland the previous weekend.

“In the race itself, pre-race plans for the two three-year-olds didn’t come to fruition, with both refusing to settle early on a pretty strong pace and didn’t last home, clearly not demonstrating their true form.

“This led to a huge anti-climax as the two outsiders, 18/1 Pyledriver and Torquator Tasso at 16/1 had the race to themselves. In the end, Pyledriver stole the show, winning by two-and-three-quarter lengths, with a further eight lengths back to Mishriff in third.”

Betfred’s Alan Firkins told EGR the shock result was a welcome one for the bookie, before outlining the runners’ upcoming chances in future races.

He said: “Can’t say the King George was anything other than a fantastic result, with outsider Pyledriver impressively holding last year’s Arc hero Torquator Tasso at bay.

“The runner-up is now an 8/1 chance to defend his crown in the autumn, with welcome ease in the ground very much on the cards,” he added.

Elsewhere, the Women’s Euros is heading towards its conclusion after a dramatic quarter-final stage which saw hosts England progress, alongside France, Germany and Sweden.

England (evens) needed extra-time to dispatch a strong Spain side (5/2) in Brighton, with Georgia Stanway scoring one of the goals of the tournament to send the Lionesses through to the final four.

On Saturday, France (7/10) also needed extra-time to ease past the Netherlands (15/4) 1-0, while Germany (3/10) ran out 2-0 winners against Austria (15/2) and Sweden (7/25) scored a last-minute winner against tournament surprise package Belgium (10/11).

Kindred Group’s Ali Gill said: “Interest in the Women’s Euros continues to be strong, which is great to see. Over the weekend France knocked out reigning champions the Netherlands in extra-time in a match that saw the second strongest turnover of the tournament so far.

“A 0-0 draw in normal time, as ever, was a great result for the book as we finished nicely in the black,” he added.

Touching on England’s chance to win their first-ever major title, bet365’s Steve Freeth said it would be a less-than-spectacular result for the book should they clinch the title.

He said: “It’s unpatriotic and goes against what the rest of the country is thinking right now, but we’d happily see England’s Women fall short in their attempt to land the Euros.

“Sarina Wiegman is a top-quality coach and those punters who have backed the Lionesses at 9/2 and all rates down in the outright, as well as Beth Mead in the top goalscorer market at 14/1, will be hopeful they can end their semi-final curse and go on to lift the trophy at Wembley next Sunday,” he added.

Switching sports and in France, Ferrari’s woes continued as Charles Leclerc span out of the race and Carlos Sainz was pitted despite seemingly on track for a podium finish.

Leclerc, who started on pole, now finds himself 63 points behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after the Dutchman held his nerve to take the chequered flag at Circuit Paul Ricard.

After a rough start to the season, things are starting to click for Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell securing a second and third place double.

Gill said: “Lewis Hamilton took his third successive podium finish, and Mercedes a first double podium of the seasons. With Leclerc starting on pole and once again exiting a race from the front, Verstappen’s win ended as a positive for us.”

Finally, in darts, Michael van Gerwen (6/5) lifted his third World Matchplay title after a stunning 18-14 win over Welshman Gerwyn Price (8/11) in Blackpool.

Price initially rushed into a 4-0 lead and held off the Dutchman for long periods of the match, before van Gerwen’s relentlessness drew the game level at 12-12. From there he powered on to victory.

Firkins said: “Mighty Michael van Gerwen returned to something close to his best form and emphatically landed both the Betfred World Matchplay championship and some hefty bets for his loyal supporters. A sizzling week in Blackpool in every respect.”

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