Denis Hogan hung up his riding boots but reckons superstar speedster Sceptical can bounce back in style at next weekend’s Rathasker Stud Phoenix Stakes, writes Will Jennings.
Dual rider-trainer Hogan drew the curtain on a glittering career in the saddle after riding Bua Boy into the Galway sunset for one final crowning glory.
A desire to focus on his handling commitments lay at the heart of that decision, with Hogan rapidly emerging as a talented sprint trainer through the success of both Sceptical and Make A Challenge.
Both his mounts are entered in next weekend’s Group Three Curragh contest and while Make A Challenge will bypass the event, Hogan is confident Sceptical can secure his maiden Group glory.
“Sceptical’s going for the Phoenix Sprint at the Curragh next Sunday week - and he’s in great nick,” the 33-year-old said.
“Make A Challenge is entering that as well but will bypass that one - we’ll try and keep them apart, and this will hopefully be Sceptical’s day.
“Make A Challenge has been busy so I just thought it’s good to freshen him up now, as he has a lot of good targets later in the year so we’ll need fresh legs.”
Hogan enjoyed several memorable riding triumphs aboard the likes of Youcanttellherthat and Moyhenna across a 13-year career in the saddle and took out his trainer’s license back in 2009.
He banged in his first winner on a horse he’d also trained with Kylebeg Krystle at Thurles in 2010 before going on to secure Grade Two National Hunt glory on Youcanttellherthat and Moyhenna - also trained at his County Tipperary base.
The versatile Hogan has recently taken a liking to training sprinters on the Flat, however, with Sceptical delivering a thrilling win at Naas in his Ascot prep run to tee up a tantalising duel with Hello Youmzain in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Sceptical finished a narrow third that day before then coming second behind Oxted in the Darley July Stakes, as Frankie Dettori took the rides but was unable to hand Hogan Group One glory.
Make A Challenge’s wait for a Group triumph also goes on, having finished second in the recent Group Two Holden Plant Rentals Sapphire Stakes and Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes.
Sceptical’s perfect trip appears to be six furlongs, with Make A Challenge more well-suited to five having scooped his three best finishes that season over that distance.
The five-year-old will steer clear of next weekend’s 6f duel but with now just his training to focus on, Hogan will be hoping Sceptical can propel him into an elite list of handlers to win Group races at the Curragh.