Gordon Lord Byron to take chance in Sha Tin Mile


RACING:If Gordon Lord Byron can make it “Lucky 13” in Sunday week’s Longines Hong Kong International Mile it will place him in exclusive company and put the seal on one of the most remarkable racing stories of 2012.

The horse once bought for just €2,000, who fractured his pelvis on his first ever start at Roscommon and finished stone last on his second appearance, has progressed through the ranks in spectacular fashion this season. He landed the Group one Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Arc day last month.

That top-flight success secured Gordon Lord Byron an all-expenses paid invitation to the last great meeting on the international circuit in Hong Kong and the horse flew out to the Far East yesterday. It will be the Tom Hogan-trained star’s first trip in an aircraft and much the furthest he has travelled. The four year old will race at Sha Tin in the colours of new part-owner Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, one of the best-known bloodstock figures in India.

Hogan’s focus at this time of year is usually on Thurles and the like but the Nenagh trainer has master-minded a remarkable transformation this year in his stable star.

A campaign that began with an out-of-the-money effort at Cork in April culminated in an expensive supplementary entry being justified in style in Paris. That was Gordon Lord Byron’s 12th start of the year but tiredness is not expected to be an issue when he flies the flag for Ireland at the prestigious International fixture.

“If anything he seems to have got stronger since France and he’s been very fresh. We don’t know for sure how the travelling will go but it shouldn’t be a problem,” Hogan said yesterday.

The handicapper rates Gordon Lord Byron’s progress this season at 46lb. This puts him into the mix for the race alongside the likes of France’s Siyouma, winner of the Sun Chariot and Canada’s EP Taylor, and Hong Kong’s dual horse of the year Ambitious Dragon.

Remarkable improvement

Just two Irish-trained horses have won at Hong Kong’s international showcase. Additional Risk scored for Dermot Weld and Mick Kinane at the first meeting 21 years ago and Jim Bolger’s Alexander Goldrun landed the 10-furlong Cup under Kevin Manning in 2004.

Where powerhouse stables like Aidan O’Brien’s and John Oxx’s have failed to fire, Hogan hopes his stable star can oblige.

“I once had a filly called Winsome Dancer that I bought from Rae Guest who was rated 38 and we got her up to 89. But this horse is at a completely different level,” said the trainer.

Gordon Lord Byron’s best form has come at distances short of a mile, and he has yet to win at the distance. But Hogan is confident the Sha Tin mile course will play to his horse’s strengths.

“He got seven furlongs very well on bad ground in France and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t get a mile on better going, around a turn and on a track that’s flat as a billiard table,” he said before confirming William Buick will be on board.

The top English jockey also scored on the Irish horse in a Listed race at York in August.

“He was going out there to ride The Fugue but he would still go to ride our horse. He is quite enamoured with him,” added Hogan.

The Fugue was ruled out of Hong Kong Kong yesterday after being found to be have run a temperature.

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