Denis Hogan has reflected on the tragic death of star sprinter Sceptical and says he has been touched by the response of the racing community following a fatal gallops injury in August.
Sceptical was bought for just £2,800, having been unraced by Godolphin, but went on to win four in a row before finishing a close third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot under Frankie Dettori.
The four-year-old was then second in the July Cup at Newmarket but his fairytale rise was cut short after a devastating accident in training.
Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, trainer Hogan has shared his memories of the unlikely hero and praised the impact of Sceptical on the Boherna yard.
“It was a very sad day and unfortunately it happens in the game,” Hogan told Paddy during an in-depth interview.
“We don’t always hear about it when the horses are maybe at a lower level but this was as good a horse as we’ve ever touched on. He was destined for big things and he could have brought us all over the world as well.
“But I suppose we have to be grateful for what he done for me and for the owners, for the yard – he brought us up that notch, he got placed in two Group 1s that showed everyone that we can train a Group horse.
We had a terrible tragedy this morning as Sceptical was fatally injured on the gallops. He was an amazing horse for us and we’ll remember all the great days we enjoyed with him. We’d like to thank @d_g_hogan @joeysheridan8 & all the staff & we feel so sad for everyone. pic.twitter.com/XQlpFV4xXl
— Hilltop Racing (@RacingHilltop) August 4, 2020
“Obviously it was documented how little he cost and we didn’t buy him thinking he was going to do what he done and we have to be grateful for what he done for us.
“I didn’t realise until we lost him how much of a following he had – we got hundreds of comments, thousands of emails, comments and just generally people who were sorry for us.
“We probably being so busy here we hadn’t realised that he had such a following and what Ascot and Newmarket and the whole story had done for us really for everyone.”
❤️ Sleep easy champ pic.twitter.com/gIZzgPcqUm
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) August 4, 2020
Hogan also explained how Dettori came to replace regular jockey Joey Sheridan at Ascot, and insists there was not tension or controversy over the decision to change Sceptical’s normal rider.
“7lb claimers were actually exempt from riding in the UK at the time because of COVID restrictions and unfortunately for Joey Sheridan, he couldn’t have ridden him,” he said.
“Frankie’s agent rang – an English number rang my phone and it was Willie Ryan saying Frankie would really like to ride that horse at Ascot and he thinks he can win.
“The owner sat up and took note and we were definitely going to put him on, and he ran a big race – it’s in top company and he showed that he could compete there.”
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