IRISH trainer TOM HOGAN took a tongue-in-cheek pot-shot at us Aussies after the upset Group One win by international raider GORDON LORD BYRON at Randwick on Saturday then shot himself in the foot by admitting he was to a degree using the G1 George Ryder as a barrier trial.

Asked by host SHANE ANDERSON on the CORRECT WEIGHT program on RADIO SPORT NATIONAL if he was surprised by the price of $19 that Gordon Lord Byron started, Hogan replied: “Aussies think they are better than anyone else.”

He went on to rightly bag the ridiculous quarantine requirements for international horses competing at The Championships in Sydney and how it was a major drawback to attracting overseas visitors.

“The logistics and expense of coming here are huge – almost prohibitive. These athletes are possibly the healthiest animals on the planet. The quarantine period for most other counties is seven to 10 days. Here is works out over a month. It is definitely a drawback. Hopefully the authorities here will see the difference between breeding stock and international racehorses.”

Had it not been for the advice of champion jockey Craig Williams, Hogan admitted he would have barrier trialled Gordon Lord Byron before the Ryder. “He hadn’t run since December and had been through that lengthy quarantine. I knew he wasn’t 100 per cent fit.

“Craig rode him in work and told me he didn’t need a barrier trial. He said ‘we won’t be too hard on him and he will be ready for the race that is your goal on the 12th (of April).’ He was the highest rated horse in the race but we didn’t have much on him on Saturday,” Hogan admitted.

The racing media in Sydney were predictably quick to claim that the win by Gordon Lord Byron had given The Championships – the $20 million gamble to revitalise the autumn carnival and turn it into a truly world-class event – instant credibility. One swallow doesn’t make a summer (or autumn).

The propaganda was churned out quickly with claims that the Gordon Lord Byron triumph would open the floodgates and bring the internationals to Sydney in droves. One could argue that won’t happen until they shorten the current quarantine period.

The major flop of the George Ryder was the favourite Red Tracer. Jockey Michael Rodd described the mare as disappointing. She pulled up – liked those who backed her – displaying poor post race recovery.

THE good news story to emerge from the Rosehill meeting was the decision by stewards not to punish Tommy Berry for his celebratory gesture when winning the Manion Cup on The Offer.

As Christian Nicolussi commented in the Sunday Telegraph: IF ever there was a pre-post celebration that deserved to avoid punishment, yesterday was it.

Tommy Berry looked the winner on The Offer in the opening race at Rosehill, and punched the air with his left fist more than 50m before the winning post.

Berry has basically been to hell and back the past fortnight.

He raced back from Singapore on Friday where his twin and best mate Nathan Berry was in an induced coma.

Nathan was struck down with viral encephalitis nearly a fortnight ago, then on Tuesday diagnosed with the much more serious Norse syndrome, which relates to epilepsy.

Usually when jockeys celebrate before the finish line, stewards fine them as a safety issue. We reckon it’s a dud rule.

Rather than spark a riot, chief steward Ray Murrihy decided not to censure Berry for going off early.

“If ever there was a case where we might forgive someone for celebrating, this was it. I don’t think any of the stewards are of the mind to look at that,’’ Murrihy said.

But stewards had no hesitation fining Hugh Bowman and James McDonald for their congratulatory ‘high five’ after Criterion won the Rosehill Guineas on Criterion. It was indeed a strange decision.

Bowman has declared none of those that finished behind Criterion on Saturday can beat him in the Derby – and that includes New Zealand Derby winner Puccini whose rider Michael Walker blamed his tactics on a saddle shift at the 1700m mark.

TRAINER Peter Moody - who celebrated on Saturday with feature wins in Sydney and Adelaide and a double in Melbourne - maintains the gap between his filly Bring Me The Maid and Golden Slipper favorites Earthquake and Mossfun is not as big as some believe.

Bring Me The Maid justified his confidence with a stunning last-to-first win in the Group Two Magic Night Stakes at Rosehill. She also impressed the bookies vaulting from $51 to $15 in Fixed Odds betting on next Saturday’s $3.5 million Golden Slipper.

“If you take a line through the form of last week’s race — the Earthquake race (Reisling Stakes) — Bring Me The Maid has beaten Mick Price’s filly (More Radiant, fourth) who run well last week, so if you line them up the gap might not be as big as people suggest,’’ Moody said.

“Bring Me The Maid handles all going and the bonus is I don’t have to train her now, she’s just trained herself. I can’t do anything wrong in the next seven days. It’s just a matter of presenting her in the same condition next week.”

Meanwhile, there were mixed emotions for trainer Joe Pride after he won his second Group One in the space of a week.

Tiger Tees won the The Galaxy but stable favourite Rain Affair missed the kick, led the field for home and tired to finish a career-threatening 10th.

“I’m celebrating Tiger Tees’ win, but I’m also racking my brain over what’s wrong with Rain Affair,” said Pride, who only a week earlier won the Coolmore Classic with Steps In Time. “It’s tough, but I’m not complaining. I’ve just won a Group 1. You take it as it is.”

MY horses to follow from the perspective of an Armchair Punter after Saturday’s east coast racing are:

SYDNEY: TOYDINI (caught the eye charging late in The Galaxy); TUPAC AMARU (was finishing off nicely in the Guineas after striking early trouble); PLUCKY BELLE (a certainty beaten in the Birthday Card Stakes when beaten in a photo by AVOID LIGHTNING).

MELBOURNE: ELITE ELLE (there was no better good thing beaten in Australian racing on Saturday – she missed the start and flew home to just be beaten by pace-maker SIWA LADY); HILL SPY (should benefit greatly from his first-up third to MISS STEELE); FLYINGCONI (was putting in the big strides late when a closing fifth to SOROS in the last).

BRISBANE: SECRET GARDEN (did a good job to finish second to BRAVE ALI with even trainer Paul Nolan Jnr admitting before the race that the horse would benefit greatly from the outing); THAT’S THE ONE (a former Victorian, now with the Barry Baldwin stable, won’t take long opening winning account in the north on the strength of Saturday’s second to BENNY’S BUTTONS); TIMELESS PRINCE (caught the eye when flashing home late for second to JUST A PERLA in the last after being held up for a run).


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