Ireland: Bargain buy Sceptical ‘a Group horse for sure’, says Denis Hogan

Sceptical
Sceptical heading to the All-Weather Finals. Photo: Denis Hogan Racing

By Jon Lees

Ireland: Denis Hogan has uncovered another gem among Godolphin’s unwanted stock in the speedster Sceptical, who streaked to his third win in four starts at Dundalk on Friday night.

Update: Irish sensation Sceptical could go for Royal Ascot sprint double

Hogan won the Flat Achievement Award from Horse Racing Ireland last year for his handling of £6,500 buy Make A Challenge, another Godolphin discard whose handicap mark rose from 66 to 112 after three wins and a fifth place in the G1 Qipco British Champions Sprint.

But in Sceptical, who cost £2,500 at the Goffs Horses In Training sale last August, he has a horse who could be at least his equal after he made light of top weight to win a 5f handicap by six and a half lengths and secure favouritism for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships Stakes at Lingfield on Good Friday.

“We seem to have got lucky again,” said Hogan. “I have been working him with Make A Challenge in the lead-up to his run in Doha and to be honest he has been more than a companion to him. They have got to be rated very similar now.

“We were always going to the All-Weather Finals at Lingfield with him but we took him to Dundalk again because we thought the experience would do him good.

“He’s a Group horse for sure but it’s still early in the season. He clocked 58 seconds not extended so I hope there is a bit more in the tank.”

Sceptical had posted his two previous wins over 6f, his Friday night win was his first at 5f.

Qatar: Ireland’s breakout star Challenge ready to become Denis Hogan’s hero

“He’s such a placid horse to train, nothing excites him so I’d say five, six or even seven furlongs should be fine for him,” Hogan added. “He’s an all-rounder. 

“I’m not sure what issue he had but my owners love Exceed And Excel and he was a gorgeous-looking horse so we took a chance on him and it has paid off.

“Hopefully he is a horse that might bring us to Ascot and lots of other races if I can keep him in one piece.”

Make A Challenge took Hogan to Qatar for the first time last month where he finished a disappointing sixth in the Dukhan Sprint.

“He got bumped around on the bend and the ground was very hard,” said Hogan. “That was disappointing because we bypassed Saudi Arabia to go there, but we could still go back another time.

“Make A Challenge will drop back to the Listed Cork Stakes in April where there should be a bit of ease in the ground.”

World top 20 horses this week

New Zealand: Punters floored by 44-1 longshot as horse racing returns

GB: Richard Hughes rules out Derby challenge for Brentford Hope

USA: Maximum Security to join Bob Baffert after Jason Servis doping allegations

Coming to a cinema near you: the nags-to-riches tale of Dream Alliance

Qatar: French King defends title as last year’s principals battle for $1m highlight