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Time for trainers to branch out

SOMETIMES trainers have to be overly optimistic and adventurous, as Dermot Weld found out when winning the Melbourne Cup and breaking new ground as a European to do so.

Last Saturday, Tom Hogan pulled off a feat not dissimilar as he was the only Irish or even European trainer to buy into a new concept called 'The Championships' which is taking place in Sydney.

Indeed, only two horses outside of Australia bought into it, the other being from Japan, but we can expect more trainers to take note after Hogan's globetrotter Gordon Lord Byron won the Group One George Ryder Stakes while many of us slept last Saturday.

Gordon Lord Byron has taken Hogan around the world and has been placed in stakes races at the Curragh, York, Royal Ascot, Haydock, Longchamp and Sha Tin, while he has won stakes races at York, Haydock, Longchamp, Leopardstown and Rosehill, where he triumphed on his latest start.

The race was worth more than €450,000 to the winner and it was only the horse's prep race for his intended target on Saturday week, so there could well be more to come from Hogan, whose bravery in tackling these worldwide races has paid dividends.

The ability of Irish horses to represent the country on a global stage was very evident on Saturday as Michael Halford enjoyed valuable success at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night, while Willie Mullins brought Un De Sceaux to France to win a Group Three there on the same day.

Halford comes into the adventurous bracket since Certerach was given little or no chance of winning the Dubai Gold Cup, and was sent off a 33/1 shot to do so, but stepping up to two miles for the first time on the Flat brought about adequate improvement to win the lucrative pot.

In fairness, Certerach had run well at Meydan last season without winning and Saturday was only his fourth ever career win, with his third being at Meydan back in January, but Halford's vision made this trip a very profitable one for connections.

Mullins' French raid was more about seizing the opportunity and it's been a path he has taken over the last four or five years, bringing some of his jumpers to France for the very good prize money that they have on offer.

Unlike Gordon Lord Byron and Certerach, Un De Sceaux was a much shorter price and, although he was crying out for the line at the finish, he justified favouritism when beating the above average Gemix.

Indeed, it is sometimes a wonder that some more jump trainers don't target France as an option, but not as much of a wonder as it is why more English trainers don't come here.

At Fairyhouse on Sunday, there is a Grade One Mares Novice Hurdle worth €90,000 and only John Quinn has been brave enough to have an entry at the five-day stage which is astonishing really as, prize money aside, the opportunity for mares to get Grade One black-type is fairly rare.


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