Make A Challenge rounded off a thrilling day for trainer Denis Hogan, giving away weight all round to land the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes at Naas two hours after Sceptical finished third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Given good health, Sceptical will be targeting Group one sprinting prizes for some time and his stablemate is sure to be aimed in the same direction after confirming his wellbeing despite being utterly friendless in the market, drifting to a remarkable 11/4 at the off.
The favourite does have strong top-tier form, finishing fifth in the British Champion Sprint Stakes last year over six furlongs.
The opposition wasn’t of that calibre here and Make A Challenge relished the drop to five furlongs, travelling powerfully in the main group that charted a central path as My Laureate blazed a trail on her own on the rail.
Once Joe Doyle gave his partner the office, the reaction was instant and Make A Challenge streaked away to win by a very cosy two and a half lengths from Flash Gordon, although the placings between the runner-up and third finisher Rapid Reaction were reversed after a stewards’ enquiry.
“The last two weeks he’d been working very well” Hogan revealed. “We were expecting to come and win this but I did think he’d improve for the run.
“He’ll possibly go to the Group Two (Greenlands Stakes over six furlongs) next weekend but there’s plenty of options for him later on in the season.
“I always thought five furlongs was his best trip even though he won over seven in handicap company last summer at Fairyhouse and Galway, every time he came back in trip he stepped up a gear.
“We’ll be looking for five more than six but some of the good sprints are over six.
“If worrying about keeping the two of them apart is the only problem I have, it’s a good complaint. We’ll try but I’m sure they will clash, maybe in a Flying Five at Champions Weekend.
“There’s a possibility Sceptical could go to the July Cup and I might keep this guy at home for now.
“The real difference between them is Make A Challenge does like a good ease in the ground whereas Sceptical can handle quick ground.”
The Cloughjordan handler was very proud of Sceptical after his brilliant performance.
“I thought we were going to hang on but that’s these sprints. You never count your chickens until you’re over the line.
“He’s run a massive race. He’s proven he’s that grade. I think he definitely did step up. Frankie (Dettori) was a bit critical of himself, I thought he gave him a great ride but he felt if he’d hung fire a little longer, he may have held on.”
The card’s other Listed contest, the Plusvital Irish EBF Polonia Stakes went to Lady Penelope (11/1), to give Joseph O’Brien a 251/1 double after Capel At Dawn took the Abbey Electrical Services Celebrate Handicap under former pony-racing prodigy, Dylan Browne McMonagle.
Declan McDonogh was doing the steering on Lady Penelope and he had her in the van throughout after breaking well from the stalls.
The Night Of Thunder filly found plenty when asked to put the contest to bed and while You’resobeautiful led the chasing pack, the bird had flown.
Sussex Garden (4/1) created a nice impression in the Free Eagle Irish EBF Fillies’ Maiden, battling well to foil favourite Hazel, who lost little in defeat. Within minutes, successful trainer Jessica Harrington was watching Alpine Star bag the Coronations Stakes emphatically at Royal Ascot.
Led up by Debbie Flavin, the groom who tends to Alpine Star, and ridden by Shane Foley, who rang Dettori in the morning to offer advice as Alpine Star’s regular pilot, Sussex Garden will be a contender for more prestigious prizes in the coming weeks.
Johnny Murtagh’s astonishing winning run continued when Kosman (15/2) benefited from a very astute front-runnign ride by Shane Kelly to claim the Sobac Soil Health Call Tom Stapleton From Soil.ie Handicap, while in the Thank You To The HSE & Frontline Handicap, Donagh O’Connor came with a wet sail on the Damian English-trained Mokhalad (13/2), who was registering his third triumph at the venue having bombed out in Tipperary over five furlongs 24 hours earlier.
Johnny Levins will be targeting premier handicaps after the impressive success of Prisoner’s Dilemma (18/1) in the Sobac Healthy Soil Healthy Animal Handicap and Aidan O’Brien recorded his customary maiden victory, Military Style (10/3) pegging back Eastern Voice and edging him out by a neck in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden for two-year-old colts and geldings.