As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Denis Hogan has found gold rooting around in the Godolphin scrapheap in recent times and is looking forward to Royal Ascot with Make A Challenge and Sceptical, cheap castoffs of that famous operation.
Make A Challenge, let go for just £6,500 as an unraced two-year-old by Godolphin in 2017, and Sceptical, who was also unraced when he fetched just £2,800 last August, have paid for themselves 20 times over and the best may yet be to come this season, according to Hogan.
Make A Challenge is being geared up for the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting while Sceptical, the highest rated sprinter in Ireland, could run in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, but there could be a potential clash between the speedsters before that in the Woodlands Park Stakes at Naas on June 8.
Hogan explained: “Just with the way the season has gone, it looks like we might have to run the two of them at Naas, but I’d be thinking Make A Challenge would be more likely to go for the King’s Stand because his best form is over five furlongs. Sceptical will probably go for the Diamond Jubilee later in the week. That could suit him better.”
Being weak and backward drove the price down for Make A Challenge, but it didn’t stop the horse climbing from 66 to 112 last season, while many people were put off Sceptical because of his wind.
Explaining the process behind identifying value, Hogan said: “I get a better kick out of finding one at bargain prices than spending big money on behalf of an owner at the sales. To be fair, James McAuley is very good at finding these horses, and he picked out Sceptical at the sales.”
He added: “We generally try and buy something that is backward or weak or maybe something that has had an issue with wind, the only real no-no would be horses with a tendon, although we have brought a few back from that as well.”
There are plenty that go the other way but Hogan is making a habit of pulling a rabbit out of the hat and describes the addition of Make A Challenge and Sceptical to his stable as a huge boost.
Hogan said: “We have had a few others, the likes of Hathiq and even Tithonus, who won a Rockingham and a Scurry having cost just five grand. Inis Meain started me off and was only small money as was Allegio. We do buy some that don’t make the grade as well but when you are not in deep you can move them on and find other jobs for them. But to have the likes of Make A Challenge and Sceptical is huge and we’re really looking forward to the season ahead with them.”