Scep­ti­cal’s fa­tal in­jury robs rac­ing of great rags-to-riches fairy tale

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Racing - By Jon Lees

Ire­land’s top sprinter, Scep­ti­cal, sus­tained a fa­tal in­jury on the gal­lops yes­ter­day, rob­bing Flat rac­ing of one of its rags-to-riches suc­cess sto­ries.

In less than 12 months, the fouryear-old reached the top of the sprint rank­ings in his own coun­try, fin­ished third at Royal As­cot and sec­ond in the July Cup, win­ning more than £120,000 – all for an orig­i­nal out­lay of just £2,800.

He was be­ing pre­pared for a Group Three race at the Cur­ragh on Sun­day when the in­jury struck, deal­ing a crush­ing blow to his trainer De­nis Ho­gan and owner James McAu­ley, who have forged a rep­u­ta­tion for suc­cess with castoffs, of which Scep­ti­cal was the star.

Bred by Godolphin, he was sold as an un­raced geld­ing at a bar­gain­base­ment price a year ago on Fri­day. He won four of his seven starts and looked to have an ex­cit­ing ca­reer ahead of him.

Ho­gan said: “We have been dealt a dev­as­tat­ing, cruel blow with the loss of our su­per­star sprinter Scep­ti­cal. He was a horse of a lifeFancy time and a game changer for my train­ing ca­reer.”

Scep­ti­cal and his jockey, Frankie Det­tori, had be­come one of the head­line acts of ITV Sport’s sum­mer cov­er­age of Bri­tish horse rac­ing, which it was an­nounced yes­ter­day would con­tinue free-toair on the net­work un­til 2023.

Af­ter a drawn-out process, ITV will have ex­clu­sive rights to nearly 100 days of rac­ing each year when the present deal, which be­gan in 2017, runs out. It in­cludes guar­an­teed cov­er­age of rac­ing’s mar­quee events – the Chel­tenham Festival, Grand Na­tional, Derby and Royal As­cot – on ITV’s main chan­nel.

The con­clu­sion of the deal, for which ITV is re­ported to be pay­ing £8-£9 mil­lion a year – up from £7.5mil­lion – is a ma­jor boost to rac­ing, which has had no spec­ta­tors, re­sult­ing in prize-money cuts.

ITV has suc­ceeded in de­liv­er­ing in­creased view­ing fig­ures, with this year’s Royal As­cot meet­ing, de­spite hav­ing to take place with­out the Queen and tra­di­tional pageantry, draw­ing eight-year high fig­ures and the Derby be­ing watched by more than 2.2mil­lion, the high­est since 2012. This year, rat­ings for both ITV and ITV4 com­bined are 22 per cent higher than last year, and 45 per cent higher than when Chan­nel 4 held the con­tract.

Mean­while, in the wake of the aban­don­ment of rac­ing at Yar­mouth on Mon­day over con­cerns about the safety of the track af­ter a horse suf­fered a fa­tal fall, Fri­day’s fix­ture at the track has been moved to Wolver­hamp­ton while fur­ther checks are car­ried out.

Horse of a life­time: Ir­ish sprinter Scep­ti­cal in full flow on the way to vic­tory at Naas

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.