© Photo Healy Racing
Sceptical goes into the July Cup with a very big chance of winning, and it would be unbelievable for trainer Denis Hogan, owners Jim Gough and James McAuley, everyone in the yard and of course Sceptical himself if he could win a prized Group 1 in Newmarket.
People think that I might be feeling sorry for myself that I can’t ride but not in the slightest. It’s Frankie Dettori that’s on board! I will be cheering him on and delighted if he gets his head in front, after running a huge race when third in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
I have been very lucky to win twice on Sceptical this year already on home turf, at Dundalk in March and then at Naas in the Listed Woodlands Stakes, which was a big day for me.
To be given that sort of opportunity is great. Denis has been very good to me and I’m learning loads, not even just riding the horses but in every way.
I ride Sceptical out every day and I have been since his early days in Denis’s. I know the horse inside-out and we haven’t seen the best of him yet. Bring on the July Cup. He’ll be ready.
He’s an absolute legend. Denis has said it, he’s a joy to train. He’s so easy to do anything with, so laidback. He’s like a child’s pony at home. As he’s had races, he’s really starting to mature. He’s a great ride at home but when he gets to the races, he’s really starting to light up.
There’s so much improvement in him and I can’t wait to see it happen. It looks to be very exciting and hopefully he’ll stand up and in years to come, become the likes of a Gordon Lord Byron or Sole Power. He has all the attributes and looks to be as good as they were.
Things have been going well for me since we came back from lockdown and I am happy with how it’s working out. I have five winners for the turf season and seven for the calendar year. Last year I rode 14 on the turf in total and 19 including the all-weather and if I could equal that this year, I’d be very happy.
I don’t really set targets. I’m just trying to improve and there is a lot to improve on as a seven-pound claimer. And I’m in the right place to learn. I’ve said it already but Denis and the owners have given me some great opportunities.
To ride a winner on Irish Derby day was fantastic. We knew Big Baby Bull had a good chance as he ran well in his first race for the yard when fourth at Leopardstown. I actually rode Turbine to win for Denis that day but Joe Doyle said he had a nice blow.
Joey and Sceptical winning at Naas in June
© Photo Healy Racing
He came on well from that and Denis’s horses are in savage form, so it was no surprise that he won at the Curragh. It wasn’t ideal conditions with the softer ground and wind but my lad relished them. Everything went straightforward. The plan was to jump out as handy as I could and keep him going.
I think he’ll get a mile. We went a strong clip and that suited him. I was behind the bridle the whole way and he really picked up for me. I wouldn’t be afraid of putting him in a mile race the next day.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think of how lucky I have been and the opportunities I have been given so early in my career. I am thankful for that and hopefully I can keep making the best of them.