Gordon Lord Byron and Billy Lee win the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Keith Melrose 3:10PM 17 JUL 2016
Report: Curragh, Sunday
Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes (Group 2), 7f, 4yo+
THREE-TIME Group 1 winner Gordon Lord Byron got the better of Sovereign Debt and Toscanini to land the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
The eight-year-old travelled well through the race under Billy Lee and showed determination under pressure to lead late on after a protracted battle with long-time leader Toscanini.
Sovereign Debt, the 7-2 joint-favourite, stayed on to take second. Dick Whittington, the other joint-favourite, was held up and never landed a blow.
A starting price of 16-1 said plenty about Gordon Lord Byron’s recent form, having been an infrequent winner in the last couple of years. He is now two from two under Lee, however, the pair having won a minor event at Tipperary last time.
Winning trainer Tom Hogan said: “If he was right I thought he was well capable of beating all of those, because I wasn’t sure that there was a genuine Group 1 performer in the field, whereas he definitely is on his day.”
‘Plenty more to come’
Victory over the likes of Sovereign Debt and Toscanini, solid lower-Group performers, would not represent a return to Gordon Lord Byron’s very best, but his enthusiasm is clearly not dimmed by age as he needed to dig deep to earn a half-length success.
Hogan added: “On his work he had shown me that he was back close to his best. He’s had life-long problems with allergies and in the spring we thought we might have lost the battle, but we’re winning it now. Billy said he was keeping a bit to himself, so we know there’s plenty more there.”
Haydock return on cards
Gordon Lord Byron landed Haydock’s Sprint Cup in 2013 and was trimmed to 16-1 (from 20-1) by Paddy Power for a repeat success in September.
Hogan seemed up for the challenge. “We’ll probably come back here for the Group 3 Phoenix Stakes in August and we’ll tip away with him,” he said. “He’ll definitely go for the Sprint Cup at Haydock again and if we get any invitations later in the year sure we might head off again.
“It’s great for all the lads at home that have put so much in to keeping him right. He takes as much attention as ten horses but he’s worth it.”