Gordon lords it over Desmond rivals

Gordon Lord Byron took full advantage of the absence of Darwin to win the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown last night.

Gordon lords it over Desmond rivals

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Darwin would have been a warm order but was taken out following a change to ground conditions with rain at the Dublin venue.

Tom Hogan’s Group One-winning stable star was dropping to Group Three company but was also having a rare run over a mile, although he was fourth in the Hong Kong Mile in December.

Ridden by Johnny Murtagh, as he was when third to Moonlight Cloud and Lethal Force in Deauville last time out, the 4-9 favourite appeared to need every yard of the trip as he had to work hard to get past long-time leader Ansgar for a neck success.

Hogan said: “I’m delighted he won. He ground it out.

“His best form has been on fast ground, and that was maybe not as good a form as he has shown in France.

“But I’m happy, it’s a nice race to win. It’s one of the old traditional Group races.

“Johnny gave him a good ride and it’s nice to get his head in front again.

“He has lots of options, he will stay the mile – he proved that.

“He might go back for the Hong Kong Mile and the Breeders’ Cup is an option.”

Free Eagle could hardly have been more impressive in winning the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden.

The Dermot Weld-trained newcomer is bred in the purple as a half-brother to the filly Sapphire and looks to have inherited plenty of the family’s ability.

Pat Smullen’s mount shot clear when asked after straightening for home, forging five and a half lengths clear of Orchestra and Wexford Town at the line.

This race has a rich recent history and was won by this year’s Epsom Derby third Galileo Rock 12 months ago.

Weld said of the 11-4 favourite: “He did what I expected him to do and he’s just a lovely colt.

“We’ll see how he comes out of it but he’s so relaxed I’d expect that he’ll come out of it well. He’ll have one more run.

“I’ve no definite plans, maybe the Beresford and he’s also in the Racing Post Trophy, we’ll see.

“He’s a stayer with speed and is a horse with an awful lot to look forward to next year.

“He has a lovely attitude, temperament and confirmation. Everything a good horse needs.

“He’s a beautiful-actioned horse. The rain left the ground absolutely perfect.”

Stan James introduced Free Eagle at 16-1 for the 2000 Guineas and Derby.

Spokesman Joseph Burke said: “Free Eagle put up a hugely impressive performance to win a very competitive maiden in some style. The race has a history of throwing up top-class horses and Free Eagle looks every inch a Group horse on that performance.”

Vallado ran out a ready all-the-way winner of the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden.

But there was also much to like about the effort of runner-up My Titania on her first racecourse appearance.

The latter is the first offspring of Sea The Stars to run in the same colours as his illustrious father and quickened very smartly two out to take closer order.

However, Shane Foley had just saved a bit on the once-raced Vallado (12-1) and stayed on well to score by two and three-quarter lengths, with the John Oxx-trained My Titania well clear of the third.

Winning trainer Eddie Lynam said: “She did it well and we like her. She was second first time which was a big achievement for one of ours.

“She was 12-1 and nobody seemed to fancy her ,but I thought she would run well. She probably hasn’t enough experience, but she’s qualified for the sales race next weekend at the Curragh.

“It’s worth a lot of money so we’ll go for it. Shane said she was very green, but picked up when asked.”

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