Coronation Cup Tips: Driver to Pyle on the pressure

Pyledriver won this race in 2021
Pyledriver won this race in 2021

Friday at Epsom is all about The Oaks with fillies aiming to etch their names into the history books in winning the famous Classic. Before the big race at 16:30, however, we are treated to some high quality appetisers and none are more prestigious than the Group One Coronation Cup. This year a small but select field are set to take their chance and Billy Grimshaw has a strong selection...

Last year's edition of this Group One contest only had six runners and in 2022 the field size will be the same, barring any late non-runners. When there is such a small field in this type of contest it can often become a tactical affair, but the participants involved here could mean it becomes particularly messy. All six have history of making the running in big or small fields, and with all riders and connections surely keen to not knock their mount out of their usual rhythm there could be an enormous pace burn up. Aidan O'Brien has a phenomenal record in this race, winning it a record eight times and sends High Definition to this contest. The phrase 'flattering to deceive' comes to mind when thinking of High Definition after a promising juvenile campaign led to a grand total of nothing much in his three and four year old seasons. However, on his reappearance in 2022 he looked to show some of his old zest when finishing just a neck behind Alenquer in the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup. He was sent off 20/1 that day but there looked no fluke in his performance and finishing so close to the winner, while also ending up ahead of State of Rest, is solid form. He front ran in this contest and as it seemed to work so well you cannot see the Ballydoyle brains trust wanting to change tactics here.

Second favourite Manobo has been supported in recent days and is now the same price as last year's winner in some quarters. It will be over a year since his last start in Britain when he lines up on the Downs but his performances over trips longer than this test at Longchamp, Saint-Cloud and Meydan mean he must be seriously respected. As mentioned, he has been running over longer trips and in these races he has been in the front two or three if not making all. Dropping in trip he will surely try to eek the stamina out of his rivals from the front so this is another member of the field we can almost guarantee will ideally be up with the pace if connections have their way. Rank outsider Palavecino shouldn't stand much chance if he runs but has also been a front runner throughout most of his career. 

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Living Legend for the Johnston team comes here on the back of a hat trick of victories, with two coming on the all weather before a turf success at Newmarket last time out. By far the most impressive of these wins was his last at Newmarket when downing 1/4 favourite Yibir in a pulsating finish. He did not lead on that day but was not far behind the leader and clearly prefers to get on with things to be seen at his optimum. The biggest priced runner except the aforementioned Palavecino, it would be a brave punter who rules Living Legend out of this contest, especially with the rapid curve of improvement he seems to be on and with such a battling attitude. Hukum is set to be the mount of Jim Crowley for Owen Burrows and at odds of 5/1 I would worry about if he had the required class to pick up a prize of this magnitude. He finished seventh but only by a length and three quarters in the Group One Longines Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan at the back end of March in his last appearance, which is no disgrace considering the quality of opposition. However, he has never raced at Epsom before and does not strike me as one who will enjoy the unique test.

Sticking with last year's form, I fancy PYLEDRIVER to go back to back and secure consecutive Coronation Cups. A repeat of last year's victory, in which he saw off the classy Al Aasy, would be enough to defeat the rivals he is set to face here. Having Frankie Dettori aboard is of course a positive and his flexibility in terms of tactics could be a big advantage for Muir and Grassick. Last season's renewal saw entrants with almost opposite profiles to this year's field and so Pyledriver led them all, but he is versatile in terms of run style and if Dettori allows the other more headstrong rivals to burn each other out in front the race could set up perfectly for Pyledriver. The fact he was ridden and headed 1f out in last year's race but rallied to regain the lead so gamely shows what an admirable attitude he has and I think he is worth backing to secure another Group One.

2022 Coronation Cup
Pyledriver silk


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