Sceptical, Ireland's top-rated sprinter, suffered a fatal injury on the gallops this morning with trainer Denis Hogan revealing the "devastating" loss of a horse which has helped to parachute his training career.
Bought for just £2,800 from Godolphin by James McAuley of Hilltop Racing last August, Sceptical quickly made his mark with a series of scintillating displays before going off favourite in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
The Exceed and Excel gelding ran a cracker to be third before going one better when second in the July Cup – both under Frankie Dettori – and had been slated to tackle the Group Three Phoenix Stakes Sprint at the Curragh on Sunday before tragedy struck.
A heartbroken Hogan revealed the terrible news in the last hour as the emerging Tipperary trainer – who retired from the saddle just last week at the Galway Races – rued the loss of "a horse of a lifetime".
"We have been dealt a devastating cruel blow at Boherna this morning with the loss of our superstar sprinter Sceptical, He was a horse of a lifetime and a game changer for my training career and everyone at Boherna," Hogan wrote on Twitter.
Hogan's sadness was echoed by those at Hilltop Racing after the 116-rated four-year-old suffered a "terrible tragedy".
"We had a terrible tragedy this morning as Sceptical was fatally injured on the gallops," Hilltop Racing said on Twitter.
"He was an amazing horse for us and we’ll remember all the great days we enjoyed with him. We’d like to thank Denis Hogan and Joey Sheridan and all the staff and we feel so sad for everyone."