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Byron tests mile waters

Tom Hogan is keen to see how Gordon Lord Byron fares in a rare run over a mile when he lines up for the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.

The five-year-old gelding has been campaigned at shorter distances since proving himself at Pattern-race level, but he put in a decent show when fourth in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin in December.

Should Gordon Lord Byron perform creditably in this competitive Group Three it would give connections more options, though his form at races between six and seven furlongs is very strong as he showed when third to Moonlight Cloud and Lethal Force in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville earlier this month.

"We were very pleased with his run the last time and the form has worked out pretty well since," said the County Tipperary trainer.

"Unfortunately there are no more easy races any more. We need to give him a run over a mile this year to see how he goes.

"He ran well in Hong Kong over a mile last year so how he goes over a mile round a bend might dictate where we go later in the year.

"He's been a model of consistency, but we'd like to see him get his head in front again some day. It's a bit difficult where we're at."

Before his run at Deauville, Gordon Lord Byron was beaten a length and three-quarters by the potentially very smart American recruit Darwin in the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh, but he is 8lb better off with Aidan O'Brien's charge.

"We meet Darwin on better terms and we'll try to get the better of him this time," said Hogan.

Custom Cut has the stiff task of attempting to give weight all round and his trainer George Kent is hoping his four-year-old can acquit himself well.

"The Group Three penalty he has makes it difficult, but I'm very happy with him. He's training as good as ever," said the Tramore handler.

"He's a horse that needs match practice. He's come out of his last run in good nick and he should run a good solid race.

"There's a backend programme and races that he slots into if he runs well. I plan to travel with him.

"He didn't handle Epsom so a line can be put through that. He didn't run then for two months. He had a big blow after last week's run so he did need it. We are running to try and get as close as possible to Darwin, who looks exciting."

David Marnane expects Elleval to do himself justice, as long as the rain stays away.

"It's a hot race. I just hope he runs a good race," said the County Tipperary trainer.

"We were very pleased with him up the Curragh (when a close fifth in the Listed Celebration Stakes) and if he runs to that mark he will run a good race. We were disappointed the last day in Leopardstown when it rained and it came up soft. He can't go on that, so I can exclude that run.

"He's in great form and if the rain stays away I think he'll run a good race."


From Belfast Telegraph