Thursday 22 February 2018

Hogan: Dundalk ideal 'wake up' for Byron

Thomas Kelly

Tom Hogan is hoping Gordon Lord Byron will have a good pipe-opener at Dundalk on Friday ahead of a crack at the Golden Shaheen in Dubai at the end of the month.

The Tipperary trainer is keen to get a race into his Prix de la Foret winner ahead of the six-furlong Group One at Meydan. Hogan gave credit to the Irish authorities for putting on the Race, for which there are seven entries.

"He's wintered well and hopefully he's headed for Dubai and the Golden Shaheen on March 30," said Hogan.

"He's more relaxed than he was last year. He's a bit lazy and it would be hard to go to Dubai without a run and he's possibly about 90pc fit, but he needs to wake up.

"The timing is good and there are a couple of horses in there like Reply and Starspangledbanner. My lad will be giving 6lb to Starspangledbanner, but we want to take him to the racecourse and this is an ideal opportunity.

"It's very good of Dundalk and HRI (Horse Racing Ireland) to put on a race to suit us. Otherwise I would have had to go to Wolverhampton with the horse as there's a six-furlong Listed race there."

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Starspangledbanner was champion sprinter in 2010, but has yet to hit those glory days since returning to the track after a failed stud career.

O'Brien also has Reply, which was third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last season but has not won since his two-year-old days. Other possibles are An Saighdiur, Battleroftheboyne, Burn The Boats and Clancy Avenue.

Across the water, champion jockey Richard Hughes has set himself a target of riding 200 winners this coming season. Hughes won the title for the first time last year in something of a cakewalk, despite missing the first month of the season after receiving a lengthy ban in India.

After twice narrowly missing out to Paul Hanagan, Hughes' association with Richard Hannon eventually paid dividends. The Kildare native would also love to be crowned champion again to prove it was not a one-off.

"I'd like to retain it once, just so no one can call me a lucky winner," he said. "But my goal this year is to ride 200 winners."

Irish Independent

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