Denis Hogan aiming for Group 1 glory at Royal Ascot with Godolphin castoffs
One man's trash is another man's treasure. Denis Hogan has found gold rooting around in the Godolphin scrapheap and is looking forward to Royal Ascot with cheap castoffs Make A Challenge and Sceptical.
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 pair before that in the Woodlands Park Stakes at Naas on June 8.
Hogan said: "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."
Make A Challenge and Sceptical cost what they did for a reason. Many others would have had the chance to snap them up at the sales but turned their noses up for one reason or another.
Being weak and backward drove the price down for Make A Challenge, but it did not 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 of the well-bred duo: "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: "But when you spend big money on a horse you are on a hiding to nothing and we like buying the cheapies. We don't mind buying problem horses, we just want to know the problem. If we can identify the problem we can get to work on that but if they don't have a problem we wouldn't be able to afford them.
"We generally try to 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 who 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.
He 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."
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