Grey clouds and rain-softened ground meant that it looked and felt like autumn at Haydock Parkhere , and never more so than when Gordon Lord Byron hit the front in the BetFred Sprint Trophy a long way from home. Tom Hogan's gelding comes alive as the days draw in, and the second Group One win of his career, by three easy lengths against the far rail, suggested that the autumn of 2013 will be his best yet.
Gordon Lord Byron won the Group One Prix de la Forêt on heavy ground on Arc day last October, but Saturday's win was not down to the going alone, for all that Lethal Force, the favourite, was struggling to cope with the surface from an early stage. He has always been a genuine and consistent performer, but now he also seems to have the mental and physical maturity to make the most of his talent.
Johnny Murtagh proved to be an ideal partner on Saturday too, as he quickly had Gordon Lord Byron settled against the far rail from his low draw and slowly applied more pressure until, about a quarter of a mile out, it was clear that nothing could live with him.
"The horse looked amazing before the race, he went down very nice and smooth and he was really on top of his game," Murtagh said. "By the time I got to the three marker, I was galloping all over the pacemaker and at the two I let him go and it was all over."
Murtagh is now enjoying significant success as a trainer, but remains one of the safest pairs of hands in the business on a top-class horse in a major race.
"When you don't expect these things to come along, you tend to appreciate them more, because at the start of the year, I didn't know what was going to happen," Murtagh said. "I'm doing two jobs, and I thought the way that people were talking, they might be giving up on me, but I still had belief that getting on the good horses, I'd be able to do the job.
"I don't know if it's made me hungrier than ever or more determined, but I'm trying to make the best of each opportunity I get."
Gordon Lord Byron is now likely to return to Longchamp next month for another run in the Forêt, but could then step up to a mile, with both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot and the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita under consideration as possible targets.
"The possibilities are endless, because he's won Group Ones now over six furlongs and seven, and I'm sure he can win one over a mile," Hogan said. "He's improved this time of the year every year, and I just knew for the last week that he'd been so well.
"Lethal Force is a serious horse, so the competition was intense, but I thought if we were going to beat him, it would probably be today. Hopefully there's more to come."
Platinum, who was bought for just £2,000 at the Doncaster sales two years ago, recorded his fourth and most valuable success of the season when he took the Old Borough Cup Handicap by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
Platinum runs in the colours of Philippa Kirby, the wife of the gelding's trainer, Philip, and having earned £62,000 in prize money for the stable this season alone, he will now be aimed at a six-figure prize in the Cesarewitch in October.
"He was bought to go hurdling and I think he still will go [back to] hurdling," Philip Kirby said. "He's always been for sale and he's still for sale, but he will cost a bit more now."
Top Notch Tonto, who joined Brian Ellison after Ian McInnes, his previous trainer, was banned for three years for horse welfare offences, was a 22-1 chance for the Group Three Super Mile but was a comfortable winner after taking the lead a quarter of a mile out.
Paul Struthers, the chief executive of the Professional Jockeys' Association, said on Saturday that any jockey thinking of riding in India this winter should "be very cautious indeed about who they are riding for," and should "contact the PJA before making a decision about going out there".
Struthers issued the advice after Martin Dwyer secured only a partial victory in his fight against a long riding ban imposed by stewards at Mahalxmi racecourse in Mumbai in February. Dwyer's mount Ice Age, a well-backed favourite, finished a close third after drifting across the course in the closing stages.
Dwyer's initial suspension was for 56 days, but this was increased to eight months when he appealed against the decision last month.
A further appeal heard on Saturday has re-instated the 56-day penalty, but Dwyer hopes to persuade the British Horseracing Authority not to reciprocate the suspension, which is due to start on Monday.
"Whilst Martin is relieved not to be facing eight months off, he is both bitterly disappointed and immensely frustrated by today's proceedings," Struthers said, "and there can be little doubt that he hasn't had a fair hearing. His grounds of appeal were very strong and it is our view that no fair and reasonable panel could have found against them."
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk