Veteran Byron 'still sweet' before 72nd run of glittering career
Ard Glen Construction Amethyst Stakes | 1m | Group 3 | ATR
We struggle to fall for Flat horses because they don't stay around for long enough to pull at our heartstrings, but you can't help but adore Gordon Lord Byron who is now into his seventh season and will be having his 72nd start in this intriguing Group 3.
Gordon Lord Byron is now a movie star too after a documentary was made about him last year. The aptly-named Against The Odds is to make its UK television premiere on the Horse & Country channel (Sky 253) on Thursday.
It is fair to say the nine-year-old Gordon Lord Byron is not the force he once was, however. He has 15 victories sitting pretty on his CV, three at Group 1 level, but the most recent of those top-level wins was in March 2014 in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in Australia.
Gordon Lord Byron won twice in 2016 and his defeat of Sovereign Debt in the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes does not look too shabby now. And while last of five in a Group 3 at Naas last time, he was certainly not disgraced finishing less than four lengths behind Diamond Fields.
Tom Hogan believes we will see an improved showing from his stable stalwart this time if he consents to settle in the early part of the race, but accepts giving weight away to four of his five rivals will not be easy.
Hogan said: "He's still struggling with his Group 2 penalty from last year and will have to battle away with it for another few months.
"He's still fresh and well. He was too free at Naas and just took off. Hopefully he settles well. He's still sweet and we haven't resorted to putting any headgear on him."
Cougar Mountain is the other runner in the field with a Group 2 penalty following his comfortable Joel Stakes success at Newmarket last September, but he will have a fitness edge on most of his rivals as this will be his fourth start of the campaign.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "Cougar Mountain is fit and well having had a few runs this year. He's a course-and-distance winner at Group 3 level, and fast ground and a good pace suit him well."
Custom Cut makes his eighth trip to Leopardstown seeking his third win at the venue, and David O'Meara reports him to be in good nick following a recent spin over an inadequate trip at Thirsk last month, when he failed to justify even-money favouritism.
O'Meara said: "I ran him over seven furlongs on fast ground at Thirsk last time and it was a bit sharp for him. He likes Leopardstown and is in good form."
Tribal Beat's best performance arrived over course and distance, when he accounted for Cougar Mountain in the Group 3 Desmond Stakes last August, and his rating of 115 is 2lb clear of the field.
Dermot Weld is represented by Raymonda, who won her first two starts impressively at the Curragh and Fairyhouse but surrendered her unbeaten record when odds-on for a Group 3 at Fairyhouse in July.
The six-runner field is completed by Elleval from David Marnane's stable.