Sunday 21 July 2019

Hogan adds new dimension to dual star status on exciting team


Denis Hogan has made the sport his own since being bitten by the racing bug. Photo: Sportsfile
Denis Hogan has made the sport his own since being bitten by the racing bug. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Denis Hogan wasn't bred into racing, unlike the vast majority of his contemporaries, but with nine-time Irish champion jumps' jockey Charlie Swan living a mere stone's throw away, it was always likely to arrive on his radar.

Swan was still revelling in the exploits of three-time Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq when he opened an equestrian centre in the Tipperary town of Cloughjordan where a young Hogan was enlisted for riding lessons.

The bug quickly took hold and he would progress from there to pony racing. With his Junior Certificate completed, Hogan had his mind set on trying to make it as a jockey and ended up with Michael Halford before returning to work under Swan with good success over jumps.

Halford had a huge effect on Hogan's career - he still regularly seeks his counsel and replicates much of what he learned at Copper Beech Stables to his current set-up in Cloughjordan - and it was there where the seeds for a fruitful training career where sown.

He "always had one or two" in his care when riding but there was some surprise when he took the plunge into training in 2009. He would be drastically bringing down the average training age but he also didn't want to sacrifice his career as a jockey so he continued to get the leg up and mix the two disciplines.

There aren't many who can say they rode and trained their first winner - as well as a plethora of others - but Hogan did just that when partnering Kylebeg Krystle to victory at Thurles in January 2010.

The 31-year-old did likewise when partnering Lady Writer to success over hurdles at Punchestown last Sunday and he's in the unique position that if a mistake is made, he has no one to blame but himself.

While he rides the vast majority of his yard's mounts, he understands the importance of other feedback.

"It makes it harder and in recent years, I've noticed that it's good to get other opinions too. Sometimes I don't mind if an owner wants another jockey's opinion and while it's great being able to ride, I know I'm not going to do it forever. I didn't think I'd be able to do it with this amount of horses but I'll stay doing it while I can," he says.

Hogan - who lies 11th in the Irish jumps trainers' championship with 14 winners and fifth in the Flat table with five winners - has been a huge success story as his Tipp stable continues to expand at pace. With 80 horses in training and some exciting recent recruits, Hogan is expected to continue his rapid rise up the training ladder, although he's quick to credit the work of others.

His dual career places greater emphasis on the work of others within the yard, while parents Martin and Mary provided him with training facilities and his mother is tasked with keeping a variety of owners' silks in pristine condition.

"We've a nicer type of horse which makes the job a bit easier. Some of the owners are after investing a lot in them and it makes the job easier when you have nice horses," he says.

"With me riding, I lean on the team a little more than another trainer. When I'm back in the weigh room, I'm relying on reliable lads down the yard with the saddling and the veterinary."

Moyhenna and Moskovite hold entries this week as they bid to book their Cheltenham Festival tickets and given his career trajectory, it may be only a matter of time before Hogan is making his mark at that level.

Irish Independent

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