Denis Hogan gained some compensation for Sceptical’s narrow Royal Ascot defeat as Make A Challenge made a successful seasonal bow at Naas.
The trainer saw his stable star finish third in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes, but Make A Challenge made no mistakes in the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes.
The five-year-old improved over 40lb last year to end 2019 on a mark of 112 and was sent off the 11-4 favourite to open his campaign with a win.
Partnered by Joe Doyle, Make A Challenge made smooth progress towards the end of the five-furlong contest and came home a comfortable half-length victor over Flash Gordon, who was later demoted to third with Rapid Reaction boosted to second.
Hogan said: “It’s good to see the horse back. We brought him to Doha and he didn’t have much of a winter break.
“He’d no luck out there – he was drawn wide and got shoved off the bend and the ground was too hard. We were just thankful to get him home in one piece.
“He was working with Sceptical a few weeks ago. He probably got disappointed when Sceptical edged him out once or twice. It wasn’t good for his head, so we worked him with some lesser types and got his confidence back up.
“There is a fair chance he could go for the Greenlands next weekend. There are plenty of options and keeping him and Sceptical apart is our biggest problem.
“I think five is his best trip, like Sceptical – today he just got gobbled up late on in the Group One at Ascot last October. Joe gets on great with him and Joey Sheridan gets on great with Sceptical.
“They might meet one day, but for the moment we’ll try to keep them apart.”
Hogan expects Sceptical to progress from his first try at the top level, with the bargain-buy having just his second turf outing at Ascot.
He added: “We ran Sceptical today (rather than in the King’s Stand on Tuesday) as we felt he needed the extra few days (after his run at Naas). He ran his heart out.
“Frankie (Dettori) was critical of himself for committing too soon, but I wasn’t. I thought we just got outstayed on the day on dead ground by hardened campaigners, which we are not. I think we can come forward again from that.
“We are looking at the July Cup and long term the Flying Five for both of them. Frankie said on better ground and conserving a bit more energy that six would be no problem.
“There is also the Nunthorpe and I would be favouring five with Make A Challenge.
“I’m proud of both horses and delighted the way they are going.”