Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Byron set for Curragh run

Back again: Gordon Lord Byron will show class at the Curragh
Back again: Gordon Lord Byron will show class at the Curragh

Tom Hogan has confirmed that Gordon Lord Byron will reappear at the Curragh on Saturday ahead of his attempt to become the first horse in nearly 50 years to win successive editions of the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

The Co Tipperary handler had been considering the City of York Stakes as an alternative option for his stable star.

However, he has decided against clocking up unnecessary air miles with the popular six-year-old in favour of the Group Three Renaissance Stakes at headquarters.

"He needs to have a prep run before he goes back to Haydock and it was a straight choice between York and the Curragh," Nenagh-based Hogan explained.

"We just felt that to go over to York with him, come back and then go back to Haydock in a fortnight's time might be a little bit over-strenuous, so we'll go the Curragh with him on Saturday and see what happens. He seems well, but he'll definitely improve for the run."

One of the game's most endearing rags-to-riches success stories after being acquired for a modest £2,000 as a foal before being sidelined for a year after fracturing his pelvis on his 2010 Roscommon debut, Gordon Lord Byron has since amassed £1.4m in prize money during a globetrotting career.

In March, he won for a first time since Haydock a year ago when plundering a famous triumph in Australia's George Ryder Stakes. At Royal Ascot in June, he ran respectably to be eighth behind Eddie Lynam's Slade Power on faster-than-ideal ground in the Diamond Jubilee, and the Sprint Cup has since been pencilled in as the target for a fourth Group One success.

No horse has retained the Haydock crown since 1967, when Be Friendly followed up its win as a two-year-old, with juveniles excluded from taking part 20 years ago. However, it is clearly a race that suits Gordon Lord Byron, as he also ran a fine second in it behind Society Rock in 2012.

Slade Power and Sole Power are other names among the 37 entries left in the six-furlong feature, though Sole Power has a more immediate engagement at York tomorrow.

Lynam's ball of speed will try to emulate his breakthrough 100/1 Nunthorpe Stakes victory under Richard Hughes in the five-furlong Group One, with Ballydoyle's three-year-old Cougar Mountain – a promising fifth in the July Cup – also set to represent the raiders.

Sole Power heads the Nunthorpe market at odds of 10/3, though his wily Co Meath-based handler has warned that he might not be in peak condition after taking time to recover from a skin infection following his breathtaking King's Stand victory. A total of 15 horses have been declared for the £265,000 Knavesmire feature.

Meanwhile, AP McCoy's quest to thrash his own record for the fastest century of winners over jumps could come to a head at Newton Abbot this evening. The irrepressible 40-year-old 19-time champion jockey needs just two winners before September 4 to beat his previous best.

He has been in insatiable form all summer, not least when landing the Guinness Galway Hurdle on Tony Martin's JP McManus-owned Thomas Edison.

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