Sunday 18 February 2018

Gordon lords over his rivals in Curragh feature

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Thomas Kelly

Evergreen eight-year-old Gordon Lord Byron claimed back-to-back victories in the Friarstown Stud Minstrel Stakes with a typically gutsy display at the Curragh.

The gelded son of Byron needed the disqualification of original winner Home Of The Brave 12 months ago, due to a failed drugs test, but this time Tom Hogan's stable star took the Group Two contest on the track.

The three-time Group One winner looked a shadow of his former self on his first three starts of this season, but enjoyed a confidence-boosting victory in lesser company at Tipperary last month.

Billy Lee had the 16/1 outsider positioned close to the pace throughout the seven-furlong contest and he knuckled down gamely inside the final furlong to score by half a length from the Dandy Nicholls-trained Sovereign Debt, ahead of the pacesetting Toscanini in third.

"I thought if he was right he was well capable of beating those," said Hogan.

"I didn't think there was a Group One horse against him and, on his day, he's still a Group One horse. In his work he showed that he was as good as ever.

"He'll probably come back for a Group Three here in August (Phoenix Sprint Stakes), and he'll go back to Haydock for the Sprint Cup. If we get invites, he may go on his travels again."

The other Group Two event on the card, the Kilboy Estate Stakes, was won by Jessica Harrington's Bocca Baciata, which lunged late under Colm O'Donoughue to land the prize.

A Group Three scorer over the course and distance last season, the four-year-old had run with great credit in Group One company on her two most recent starts - particularly when chasing home the brilliant Minding in the Pretty Polly Stakes three weeks ago.

Hugo Palmer's German 1,000 Guineas winner Hawksmoor and Aidan O'Brien's apparent second string Earring duelled for the lead entering the final furlong, but Bocca Baciata (4/1) finished well to edge out Earring by half a length, with Hawksmoor by a short head.

Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen were among the winners as Rose De Pierre (5/4) delivered for favourite-backers in the fillies' handicap over a mile.

A daughter of Dubawi out of the talented Profound Beauty, the Moyglare Stud-owned filly made it two wins from as many outings as she moved through the gears smoothly to beat Diamond Rio by two lengths.

Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore combined to take the nursery with Istan (15/8), which proved a length too good for Ger Lyons-trained Rock In Peace.

Lyons enjoyed better fortune in the two-year-old fillies maiden as his Velveteen (9/2) made all the running in the hands of Colin Keane.

Irish Independent

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