Sydney gets first raceday glimpse of Irish flyer

Irish sprinter Gordon Lord Byron makes his Australian racecourse debut this Saturday when he contests the $1 million Group One George Ryder Stakes to be run over 1500m at Rosehill Gardens.

The well-travelled six-year-old will then compete in the $3m The Star Doncaster Mile over 1600m or the $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes over 1200m on Day One of The Championships on April 12.

It has been quite a journey for connections all of whom reside in County Tipperary in Ireland. Owner Morgan Cahalan explained how he and trainer Tom Hogan have been life-long friends.

“We knew each other as kids, we knew the same girls and we drank in the same pub … we didn’t marry the same woman,” Cahalan quipped.

Having acquired Gordon Lord Byron as a foal it has been a roller-coaster ride but connections never lost faith in the horse.

“I knew he was good. 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 in heavy ground til we went to the all weather track and there he really came good.

“I knew I had a Group horse on my hands, but we didn’t know he was a Group One until a little bit later.”

Gordon Lord Byron progressed rapidly since and has won two Group One races; the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp over 1500m and the Haydock Sprint Cup over 1200m.

He is no stranger to international travel having already ventured to both Dubai and Hong Kong and now he has gone that little bit further to Australia to go up against some of the best sprinters in the world who have gathered in Sydney to contest races in the BMW Sydney Carnival and The Championships.

Following his quarantine period at Newmarket where his trackwork was strong, Gordon Lord Byron travelled Down Under and will line up in the only global Group One race conducted over 1500m, the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill Gardens.

“A lot depends on the pace of the races; if they’re run at a good fast pace on a level track he can win over six and seven furlongs,” Cahalan said.

“He was staying on at the end of the mile in Hong Kong after a bit of an interrupted passage. He’s a bit unique as he’s effective at a number of different distances.

“I’d never been to Dubai and I’d never been to Hong Kong until Gordon took me there and now he’s taking me to Australia. I’m looking forward to seeing him winning some prizemoney.”

Until now, for Morgan this trip to Sydney and The Championships is only something he could dream about: “It’s such a huge privilege to own one horse, I have to pinch myself sometimes just thinking about it.

“I‘ve never been anywhere before I got this horse, my passport, I could have cashed it in – I just didn’t travel, I didn’t have a reason to go.

“It’s huge for us to win anywhere but when you’re up at this level and to go to Australia, it is something special.”