There was hugely sad news on Tuesday as Denis Hogan announced the passing of talented four-year-old Sceptical, dual placed at the top level.
Bought for just £2,500 at the Doncaster Sales in August 2019, Sceptical proved to be a revelation. Winning four of his seven starts, he was a rapid riser through the ranks. An impressive maiden winner on his second start, no one could have foreseen what was to come.
His first three victories all came on the All-Weather at Dundalk, including a pair of facile handicap successes. Despite those tearaway victories, he was still sent off 3/1jf for the Woodlands Stakes at Naas. That contest would prove his class, as he sauntered to an effortless success.
Group 1 Dreams
After that Naas victory, Hogan’s star was never underestimated again. Aimed at the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, he was sent off the 2/1 favourite with Frankie Dettori aboard. Dettori sent Sceptical to the front and he led with just a furlong to go, before just being outstayed in the dying strides.
Not to be deterred, Sceptical headed to Newmarket for the July Cup and was the punter’s choice for a feel-good success. It would be another placed effort at the top-table, as he finished a running-on second behind Oxted.
Rags to Riches
There was so much to like about the Sceptical story and it should have continued for far longer than it did. Winning a handicap off 90 back in February, by June, Sceptical had gone down by half a length in a Royal Ascot Group 1. Given a price-tag of £2,500, it was the shrewdest of pick-ups by Hogan and the team.
After winning his maiden at Dundalk in November 2019, not even Hogan could have predicted what was to come. Speaking after that success, he explained: “Sceptical is a lovely horse. He was a bargain buy and he has gears to burn. He was green here last time but came on in leaps and bounds for that. We’ve no real plan, so we’ll have to see what the programme is like“.
The horse of a lifetime and the self-professed “best horse” that Hogan ever-trained, he’ll be sorely missed.