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Make A Challenge looks up to task at Curragh

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EASIER STANDARD: Make A Challenge drops down a grade at the Curragh. Photo: Caroline Norris

EASIER STANDARD: Make A Challenge drops down a grade at the Curragh. Photo: Caroline Norris

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EASIER STANDARD: Make A Challenge drops down a grade at the Curragh. Photo: Caroline Norris

Denis Hogan has swerved Saturday's Group One British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot with Make A Challenge set to have his final run of the season in today's TRM Waterford Testimonial Stakes (1.35) at the Curragh.

Make A Challenge drops down in grade to bid for successive wins in the Listed event having failed to fire in the Group One Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp 11 days ago when finishing eighth after an interrupted preparation.

The five-year-old holds a special place in Hogan's heart and he's delighted to report that his stable star will remain in training next year as he bids for his fifth success at this level this season.

"We've been to the l'Abbaye only 10 days ago and he had a long, messy trip going over and back to France. There was a few things that didn't go to plan and I just feel that we wouldn't be going to Ascot fresh enough to compete at Group One level," Hogan said yesterday.

"So we're going to let him have his last run of the season in Listed company and what will be will be.

"We won't be knocking him around if he's not up to it but he's had a long season and this is going to be it for him. He'll go off till January after this and he'll probably start back in the early spring because he likes the cut in the ground."

Jockey Joe Doyle has forged a formidable partnership with the Invincible Spirit gelding with eight victories on his back in recent seasons and Hogan paid tribute to the Tipperary jockey insisting that "there's no jockey that could replace him on Make A Challenge because he knows him so well".

Make A Challenge must give away weight all around but Doyle's mount is the class act of the 12 runners and should finish his season on a high if putting his best foot forward, while Gavin Cromwell is another eyeing Listed glory as the Meath trainer sends Come September to France today for the Prix Casimir Delamarre (12.50) at Longchamp with Maxime Guyon up. 

Meanwhile, Down Royal's marquee two-day jumps meeting on October 31/November 1 has been given the green light to go ahead with new lockdown measures in Northern Ireland not set to impact on elite-level sport amid the worrying escalation of Covid-19 figures.