With British racing braced for a return to action next month, trainers are already looking forward to Royal Ascot and preparing their horses for Group 1 success.

Denis Hogan is amongst those eyeing a big prize at the Berkshire track, after purchasing two former Godolphin runners.

The Tipperary trainer paid a combined amount of £9,300 for Make A Challenge and Sceptical, and Hogan has already seen both bring in big prize money and has high hopes for 2020.

Since being purchased in 2017, Make A Challenge has enjoyed plenty of success on the track and racked up six victories last year – including back-to-back success at the Curragh in September and October.

The five-year-old, who finished fifth of 17 in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes on heavy ground in October, could now target the King’s Stand Stakes, although he is currently 16/1 to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes with Betfred.

Meanwhile, Sceptical is now the highest-rated sprinter in Ireland having already secured two victories this year and will go for four in a row when racing returns.

The four-year-old was impressive in victory at Dundalk last time out, winning a 5f all-weather contest by 6½ lengths and Hogan has high hopes for his charge.

Sceptical appears on course to run in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, which is pencilled in on the BHA schedule to take place from June 16 to June 20 (Stradivarius 6/4f Ascot Gold Cup Antepost).

Before the trip to the UK, the pair could go head-to-head on home soil, with Hogan admitting they can both run in the Woodlands Park Stakes at Naas on June 8.

Hogan told the Racing Post: “To have the likes of Make A Challenge and Sceptical is huge and we’re really looking forward to the season ahead with them.

“With the way the season has gone, it looks like we might have to run the two of them at Naas, but I’d be thinking Make A Challenge would be more likely to go for the King’s Stand because his best form is over five furlongs.

“Sceptical will probably go for the Diamond Jubilee later in the week. That could suit him better.”

There was more positive news for British racing on Sunday, with a BHA official stating that he is “incredibly confident” over the June 1 return date.

The government will have the final say as to whether it is possible for behind-closed-doors action to resume next month, but Brant Dunshea – the BHA’s chief regulatory officer – is very optimistic on the proposed return date.

Dunshea said: “We cannot control the government’s decision-making but we’ve been working continuously to make sure we’re in a strong position. We’re very excited and positive we’ll be ready to go from June 1.”

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