The bold decision to come to the other side of the world with Gordon Lord Byron had plenty of Irish eyes smiling at Rosehill after the gelding beat a class field in the George Ryder Stakes.
His Group One win also cemented the efforts by NSW racing authorities to attract overseas visitors to Sydney for the autumn.
Trainer Tom Hogan is one who is happy to be here after plotting an international path for the six-year-old which will include one more race in Sydney.
Ridden midfield with supreme confidence by Craig Williams, Gordon Lord Byron ($19) made his move inside the final 100 metres to edge Speediness ($26) by a short neck.
Three-year-old El Roca ($7) held on for third another three-quarters of a length away after leading from the barriers while favourite Red Tracer ($3.70) was never a chance, finishing 10th of the 16 runners.
“We have had a lot of help here,” Hogan said.
“The facilities have been wonderful. The quarantine has been a bit long but once he came to Sydney he’s been great.
“It’s just fabulous. I said jokingly a couple of months ago my plan for him this year was to win a Group One in Australia, one in Asia, one in Europe and one in America.
“So we’ve got the first one.
“It will be big news back home in Ireland. We don’t like to really blow things up until they happen so now we can really celebrate.” Gordon Lord Byron will aim for a second Group One race in Sydney in two weeks but whether he steps up to 1600m in the Doncaster or goes back to 1200m in the TJ Smith is a decision still to be made.
“I’ll talk to Craig about whether we go up or go back,” Hogan said.
“We will see how he eats and make a decision next week.”
The gelding’s owner Morgan Cahalan left his small farm to come on the trip to Australia with a horse he tried twice to sell.
“I bought him for $2000 as a weanling,” Cahalan said.
“I tried to sell him as a yearling but couldn’t get a bid on him.
“Then I tried to put him in a breeze-up sale but no sales company would take him.
“This really is a dream come true. It’s quite unbelievable. He hasn’t had a run for four months since Hong Kong.
“I can’t say how wonderful this is.”
Victorian trainer Colin Scott was happy to come second after the disappointment of the performance of Speediness when seventh in the Canterbury Stakes.
Speediness appeared to choke down in that race and was fitted with a tongue tie.
“I’m rapt,” Scott said.
“Our goal was to come up for the Doncaster and we said if we could finish within two or three lengths at weight-for-age we would be happy.
“We drop four kilos going into the Doncaster. Four kilos is a neck.
“He’s beaten some very good horses. His last run was very disappointing and it’s good to see him back to his best.”