Trainer Tom Hogan is eagerly awaiting a fourth visit to Sha Tin for his much travelled stable star Gordon Lord Byron, who is scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong on Saturday evening 6 December, eight days ahead of his scheduled run in theHK$18.5million Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
This time around, however, there is a difference, and the difference is in the word “Sprint”.
Gordon Lord Byron’s three previous runs have yielded two fourth place finishes in the Hong Kong Mile in 2012 and 2013, and a seventh of 14 finish behind the very talented Variety Club in this year’s Champions Mile in May.
Now Gordon Lord Byron comes to Sha Tin off an eye-catching win in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot, where jockey Wayne Lordan threaded “GLB” through the narrowest of gaps for what had seemed, just moments before, an unlikely victory.
“Wayne gave him a great ride that day, and the horse was very brave” enthused an admittedly biased Hogan, “for my money the ride of the season! He has a great record as a sprint jockey.”
Since then Gordon Lord Byron has had a relatively quiet time of it, but Hogan revealed that he has been away to the racetrack at Dundalk for a couple of bits of work these past two Fridays.
“He’s been in great form since his last run at Ascot, and we’ve taken him to Dundalk, where he loves the surface. His work there last Friday evening was first class – absolutely tip-top.”
Of the decision to contest the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint rather than the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile Hogan sees it thus: “Gordon Lord Byron is not short of speed. He’s been to Haydock, a fast six-furlong track, for the Sprint these past three years, and run well (second in 2012, first in 2013 and second again in 2014).”
Hogan continued: “In the Prix de La Foret on Arc day, when he was second to Olympic Glory, they went the first five furlongs in sub 56 seconds, so he’s not short of pace. Last year the Hong Kong Sprint was won by Lord Kanaloa by five lengths; that’s like winning a two mile race by a distance – and I don’t see a Lord Kanaloa in the field this year. Sole Power was second last year, and we’ve beaten him before over six furlongs.”
“All we can hope for is a reasonable draw, and some cover and some luck in running. We go there with confidence, and it’s certainly worth a shot. Anyway we’ve never been afraid to get beat,” adds Hogan, the trainer whose spirit of adventure sent Gordon Lord Byron to Australia earlier this year for G1 success in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in March.
“The horse loves it in Hong Kong. We all love going back there. The hospitality is great. Why wouldn’t we give it a go?” Hogan asks.
It’s hard to disagree with his logic.