Thursday 19 April 2018

Hogan hoping to land more 50/1 glory with 'Bucks'

Trainer Tom Hogan. Photo: PA
Trainer Tom Hogan. Photo: PA
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Tom Hogan must be the only trainer plotting an ambitious assault on the Cheltenham Festival in 12 days' time whilst simultaneously preparing another horse for a Curragh Group Three a little over a fortnight later.

On Wednesday week, Hogan will strive to double his tally at the Cotswolds gala when Winsome Bucks tackles the Champion Bumper, his only previous win there coming when he and Noel Fehily got off the mark together with Silver Jaro in the 2008 County Hurdle.

Exactly two weeks after that momentous event, another happening occurred that would transform Hogan's life even more, although he didn't know it at the time.

On March 28, 2008, a colt by the unfashionable sire Byron was born.

The rags-to-riches nature of Gordon Lord Byron's tale is well documented by now, but the redoubtable eight-year-old has taken Hogan, quite literally, to places that he might never have imagined he would encounter.

The globetrotting triple Group One winner will probably begin its seventh campaign at headquarters on April 3. His stellar career is of the enduring variety more routinely associated with jumpers, and it is the fledging path of Winsome Bucks that will preoccupy Hogan's mindset more immediately.

Just two years younger than his hugely popular stablemate, the impressive Leopardstown bumper winner is a 50/1 shot to cause an upset in the £70,000 Grade One on March 16.

Then again, Silver Jaro was also 50/1 when he triumphed, so that is unlikely to deter the Nenagh handler.

"He was sick last year and is just really coming to himself and hopefully he has improved since Leopardstown," Hogan said of the Christmas victor. "He's a horse with a high cruising speed but he stays well, so he should have no problems up the hill.

"Leopardstown gets soft to heavy, but it never really gets to be that really deep ground, so it was okay for him. He's a good-actioned horse and deep ground wouldn't really be for him.

"We skipped an opportunity at Naas with him and the horse that was third at Leopardstown (A Genie In Abottle) won that race, which was nice to see."

Both of Gordon Lord Byron's 2015 wins came at the Curragh, the second thanks to the disqualification of Home Of The Brave in a Group Three. "We will probably look to the Gladness Stakes with him now and he does have an option at Wolverhampton, but the Gladness might be for him," Hogan indicated of the April 3 Group Three.

Meanwhile, Derek O'Connor has switched horses in the four-miler on day one of the Festival. The point-to-point champion was due to partner Colin Tizzard's Native River, but will now ride JP McManus's 11/2 favourite Minella Rocco for Jonjo O'Neill.

"I was delighted to get the call to ride Native River, and I hate to let connections down, but Minella Rocco is favourite," O'Connor explained.

Irish Independent

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