Irish raider set for Aussie start
IRISH galloper Gordon Lord Byron will make his Australian racecourse debut on Saturday when he contests the $1 million Group One George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
The well-travelled six-year-old will then tackle either the $3 million Doncaster Mile or the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on day one of The Championships at Randwick on April 12.
It has been a long journey for the connections, all of whom come from County Tipperary, with part-owner Morgan Calahan saying he and trainer Tom Hogan had been lifelong friends.
"We knew each other as kids - we knew the same girls and drank in the same pub," Calahan said.
Having acquired the son of Byron as a foal, the connections have had a rollercoaster ride, but never lost faith in the galloper who has returned more than $1.2 million in prizemoney.
"We knew he was good," Calahan said. "We had a few quid on him at 100-1 one day and he finished second.
"The weather turned bad and we kept asking him to win races on heavy ground - then we went to an all-weather track and he really came good.
"We knew we had a Group horse on our hands, but we didn't know he was a Group One until a little bit later."
Gordon Lord Byron has won two Group One races, the Prix de la Foret (1500m) at Longchamp and the Haydock Sprint Cup (1200m) in England last September.
The gelding has raced in Dubai and Hong Kong, and at his last start finished fourth behind Glorious Days in the Group One Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on December 8.
Nominations for the George Ryder include in-form Sydney gallopers Appearance and Boban.