Byron lords it in Desmond Stakes
A file photograph of Johnny Murtagh, who rode Gordon Lord Byron to win the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown last night. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Gordon Lord Byron took full advantage of the absence of Darwin to win the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown last night. Aidan O’Brien’s colt would have been a warm order but was taken out following a change to ground conditions with rain at the Dublin venue.
Tom Hogan’s Group One-winning star was dropping to Group Three company but was also having a rare run over a mile, although he was fourth in the Hong Kong Mile in December.
Ridden by Johnny Murtagh, the 4 to 9 favourite appeared to need every yard of the trip as he had to work hard to get past long-time leader Ansgar for a neck success. “He has lots of options, he will stay the mile – he proved that. He might go back for the Hong Kong Mile and the Breeders’ Cup is an option,” said Hogan.
Free Eagle could hardly have been more impressive in winning the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders’ Fund Maiden. The Dermot Weld-trained newcomer is bred in the purple as a half-brother to the filly Sapphire.
Pat Smullen’s mount shot clear when asked after straightening for home, forging five and a half lengths clear of Orchestra and Wexford Town at the line.
Weld said of the 11/4 favourite: “He did what I expected him to do and he’s just a lovely colt. We’ll see how he comes out of it but he’s so relaxed I’d expect that he’ll come out of it well. He’ll have one more run. I’ve no definite plans, maybe the Beresford and he’s also in the Racing Post Trophy, we’ll see.”
Vallado ran out a ready all-the-way winner of the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden. But there was also much to like about the effort of runner-up My Titania on her first racecourse appearance.
The latter is the first offspring of Sea The Stars to run in the same colours as his illustrious father and quickened very smartly two out to take closer order. However, Shane Foley had just saved a bit on the once-raced Vallado and stayed on well to score by 2¾ lengths from My Titania.