Irish sprinter Gordon Lord Byron has amassed more than £1.7m in prizemoney, having won 15 times from 71 starts, including Group One successes in the Betfred Sprint Cup and the Qatar Prix de la Foret. But he didn’t get off to the most auspicious start in life – the bargain youngster was bought for €2,000 and his owners only kept him and put him into training when no one else wanted to buy him. On his racing debut as a two-year-old he was swiftly pulled up, having fractured his pelvis, and he might have been put down were it not for the perseverance of his trainer, Tom Hogan.
The horse didn’t return to the track for more than a year, and when he did race again, he came 14th out of 14 in a maiden at the Curragh. Who could have foreseen he would go on to travel the world, racing in high profile races in Australia, Hong Kong, France and Dubai, as well as having numerous Group race successes in England and Ireland.
Gordon Lord Byron has proved that a cheap racehorse can bounce back from injury and beat the world’s best, and he has gained legions of fans around the world. He has changed the lives of his owners, Morgan Calahan and his wife Mary, bringing them great hope and joy after both had to undergo cancer treatment. The horse’s life story is a truly remarkable tale, and this is explored in depth in the award-winning documentary, aptly-named ‘Against The Odds’.
The film was produced by Co Tipperary film producer, Nicholas Ryan Purcell. Filming began in February 2015 and the production wrapped almost a year later. In that time, Nicholas and his team explored Gordon Lord Byron’s background and spoke to many of the people whose lives had been touched by the racehorse, including the Calahan family, trainer Tom Hogan, co-owner Cyrus Poonawalla, jockey William Buick and many others.
The film is narrated by bloodstock executive Tom Rudd, who also did all the interviews with the horse’s connections for the documentary.
“Gordon Lord Byron was a hugely popular horse who had admirers around the globe, and this documentary gives viewers an in-depth look at his incredible life story and his massive success as a racehorse, despite the odds being stacked against him,” says Jonathan Rippon, H&C’s Head of Programming.
Against The Odds premieres on Horse & Country TV (Sky channel 253 in the UK and Ireland) at 9pm on Thursday 11 May. It can also be viewed on H&C Play, the channel’s online service, where you can watch live TV and enjoy 10 days of Catch-Up and over 500 hours of TV shows, on demand. The documentary will also be aired in Horse & Country’s international channels in Australia, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden.