/ Racing

Byron and Darwin clash in Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh

Updated: Friday, 19 Jul 2013 19:33 | Comments

Joseph O'Brien and the unexposed Darwin take in the Minstrel Stakes before a possible tilt at the Sussex Stakes
Joseph O'Brien and the unexposed Darwin take in the Minstrel Stakes before a possible tilt at the Sussex Stakes

Trainer Tom Hogan feels stable star Gordon Lord Byron has plenty on his plate at the Curragh on Saturday, despite taking a drop in class for the Invesco Pension Consultants Minstrel Stakes.

The five-year-old grabbed Group One glory in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp last October and must concede weight to each of his five rivals in the Group Three over seven furlongs.

Gordon Lord Byron finished fourth behind Lethal Force in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, but his County Tipperary-based handler is fearful of the threat posed by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Darwin.

The American import certainly looked the part when making a winning Irish debut at Naas late last month.

Hogan said: "He's in good form. We gave him a bit of a break after Ascot and he's done a few nice pieces of work this week and last week, so we're happy with him.

"We were thinking this would be a nice prep race for either the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville (4 August) or the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood (30 July), but it's actually turned out to be a very hot race.

"From what I've heard about Darwin, he's reputed to be a potential Group One horse. If that's the case, Gordon is going to have to be right at the top of his game to give him 12lb. It could be a struggle.

"We're happy with our horse and if all goes well it will be either Deauville or Goodwood for him next."

Jim Bolger's Leitir Mor is an interesting contender as he comes back down in grade after having played pacemaker for stablemate Dawn Approach in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The field is completed by Custom Cut, Bold Thady Quill and True Verdict.

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