Craig Williams has been booked to ride Gordon Lord Byron during The Championships and the leading jockey got his first opportunity to partner the talented gelding in trackwork at the International Equine Centre in Werribee this morning.
Gordon Lord Byron arrived in Australia on March 8 and has done plenty of pace work under the guidance of apprentice jockey Kate O’Brien, but had his first serious hit-out this morning.
Williams told TVN that he was happy with the physical condition of Gordon Lord Byron and believes that the Byron gelding still has plenty of improvement in front of him before he contests either the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) or Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
“I was very happy with the way that the horse looked,” Williams said.
“Coming out from Europe he still has a bit of a wooly coat, which is understandable for a horse coming from a different weather background, but most importantly on the track I was happy with his movement.
“He is a very nice and easy horse to ride and I am looking forward to seeing how he establishes himself in Australia under race conditions.”
Gordon Lord Byron broke through for his maiden win at Group 1 level in the Qatar Prix De La Foret (1400m) at Longchamp on October 7 in 2012 and scored his second win at the highest level of racing when he took out the Group 1 Sprint Cup (1207m) at Haydock Park on September 7.
The six-year-old has previously travelled to the Southern Hemisphere to contest the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m), finishing fourth in both 2012 and 2013, and Williams believes that the form of the Tom Hogan-trained galloper stacks up well in Australia.
“His form in Europe is very strong; his is a dual Group 1 winner and his run in the Arc meeting was excellent behind a super mare,” Williams said.
“His runs in the last two years in Hong Kong have shown that the horse has been able to travel and have success.”
Gordon Lord Byron finished in the top 100 of the 2013 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings with a rating of 118 for his win in the Sprint Cup – the same rating that was allocated to Australian gallopers Boban (Emirates Stakes), Buffering (VRC Sprint Classic), Shamus Award (Cox Plate) and Super Cool (Australian Cup).