Those who were looking to Telescope to emerge as one of the stars of the season must wait a while longer to refocus their hopes. After some twinkling homework on the Newmarket gallops, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt galloped as swiftly up the betting for the Derby, only to defect from the Epsom showpiece with nine days to go because of a sore shin. Now he will miss his chance to shine at Royal Ascot, too.
Telescope has yet to race as a three-year-old, having missed an intended run in the Dante Stakes after skinning his legs on a horsebox ramp, and has only a Newmarket maiden victory to his name. But that success has been well advertised – the five who followed him home have all won since, most notably runner-up Elkaayed, who romped to victory at Doncaster on Saturday – and the son of Galileo was, and still is, regarded as an exciting talent.
Mindful of his potential this year and next (his trainer's patience with horses of his type has reaped rich reward in the past), it is likely to be late summer before Telescope, who is owned by one of the Highclere Thoroughbred syndicates, makes the track again, which would also rule out the Irish Derby. "Telescope is fine now, 100 per cent, but he has been through a lot in a short space of time," said Highclere manager Harry Herbert, "and Sir Michael does not feel it would be right to take him to Ascot. In his words, we need to re-group with the horse and see where we are later on. But we still have a lot of faith in him."
Telescope's Ascot entry had been the King Edward VII Stakes, regarded as a Derby consolation or a staging post for upwardly mobile types. Elkaayed and another Highclere colourbearer, Greatwood, are among the entries.
Royal Ascot, which opens on Tuesday week, provides the next set of elite tests on the domestic calendar, with seven Group One contests in five days. On the sprinting front Reckless Abandon, one of last year's speediest juveniles, is likely to take his chance in the five-furlong King's Stand Stakes on the opening afternoon, rather than the longer Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
The three-year-old opened his second season with a close third over the minimum trip at Haydock last month. "He has come out of that really well," reported trainer Clive Cox, "and I think Ascot's stiff five will suit him."
Reckless Abandon, twice a top-level winner over six furlongs last term, is second market choice for the King's Stand, behind the South African champion Shea Shea, who has been acclimatising well in Newmarket since taking a Group One sprint at Meydan in March. "He's a big, strong horse and has dealt with the travelling well," said trainer Mike de Kock of the six-year-old, "and he's been doing good pieces of fast work."
Sixty years ago, the Queen celebrated her coronation month with a winner at the Royal meeting, Choir Boy in the Hunt Cup. Her candidate for an anniversary repeat at this year's meeting is the Gold Cup third favourite Estimate, who went well in her work with her Stoute stablemates this morning in Newmarket.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Another Claret (3.15 Thirsk) Having been tried over a selection of distances, returns to handicap company on what may prove an entirely workable mark over what may be his optimum trip.
Muhdiq (6.50 Sandown) Had no chance from his draw on his seasonal debut last month (also his first run as a gelding), but ran eye-catchingly well and there should be more to come with that run under his girth.
One to watch
Tropics (Dean Ivory) Was run out of the spoils late at Windsor on Monday, but was in front soon enough and still looks a progressive sprinter.