A match made in horseracing heaven: two romantics hopelessly chasing a dream
David Jennings pays tribute to the remarkable Gordon Lord Byron
In this shallow world of horseracing where your looks, family and place of residence are what you are judged on, Gordon Lord Byron was a glorious paradox. He was everything you are not supposed to be.
An unattractive specimen, an unwanted yearling, an uninspiring debut (pulled up in a Roscommon maiden) and with an unheralded trainer, Gordon Lord Byron rose from the humblest of origins to take on the world’s best. And, he beat them too. At Rosehill in Sydney; at Longchamp in France; at Haydock in the Sprint Cup. He gave globetrotting a whole new meaning.
There were days when you thought he was finished, loads of them. He finished last in a Listed race at Redcar on his final start of 2016. Next thing you knew he was turning up at Meydan the following January and winning a Group 2 at the Curragh in May at the age of nine.
Gordon Lord Byron never made any sense, not one bit of him. He won three times on heavy ground, including the Prix de la Foret on Arc day at Longchamp, yet trainer Tom Hogan was always adamant he was best on a quicker surface. Work that one out?
Hogan’s role in this particular tale should not be underplayed. Some will say he would have been nothing without Gordon Lord Byron. I say Gordon Lord Byron would have been nothing without Hogan. He aimed for the stars when others might have tried to secure a mark to win a little handicap around Sligo.
I will miss ringing Hogan for the pre-race quote. When you hung up the phone you could never contemplate defeat for his most prized possession, no matter what the opposition.
Gordon had always just done his best ever piece of work, and ate up, and never looked better, and never been fitter. Whether it was 2012 or 2019.
Even now, after his best buddy has passed away, Hogan did not deviate from the script. "He'd actually been working better than he was last year. He looked superb and was in great form," Hogan told us after the devastating news broke.
They were a match made in horseracing heaven. Two romantics hopelessly chasing a dream, one lost without the other.
My deepest sympathies, Tom. You did the old boy proud.
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