Telescope misses St Leger to focus on Champion challenge


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The Independent Online

Telescope, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt who has carried the burden of Classic hopes ever since winning his maiden on the Rowley Mile last autumn, is to miss his last chance to fulfil them in the St Leger and will instead be aimed at the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.

Nineteen acceptors for the final Classic were named today, but the son of Galileo will not be supplemented to join them on Town Moor on 14 September, despite renewed speculation after his emphatic victory in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, usually a major trial for the St Leger, at York last week. The Highclere syndicate which owns the colt said: "Telescope will not run in the Ladbrokes St Leger. His likely next start will be in the QIPCO Champion Stakes in October." That also appeared to rule out a challenge for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp earlier in the same month.

Telescope missed the Derby after suffering successive injuries in the spring, but he returned with a bloodless victory in a fast time at Leicester last month. He was then beaten at odds-on in a Group Three contest at Haydock 19 days ago, before stepping up to 12 furlongs at York. Connections may harbour doubts about the suitability of the extended mile-and-three-quarter test of the St Leger, but could face a different imponderable if the ground at Ascot is as soft on Champions Day as it was for the meeting last year. All Telescope's starts have been on a sound surface.

In his absence, the St Leger betting is just about headed by Leading Light, not seen since taking the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot but a 4-1 chance with the sponsors Ladbrokes, as one of four possible runners for Aidan O'Brien. He also has the Great Voltigeur runner-up Foundry, Eye Of The Storm and Plinth, while a further strong Irish challenger is the David Wachman-trained Galileo Rock, who was placed in the Derby and Irish Derby.

John Gosden, who has won three of the last six St Legers, could saddle Gordon Stakes runner-up Excess Knowledge and Bahrain Trophy winner Feel Like Dancing. Godolphin, who have won the Classic six times, including last year when Encke frustrated Camelot's Triple Crown challenge, can pick from the Derby runner-up Libertarian, Gordon Stakes winner Cap O'Rushes and Great Voltigeur third Secret Number.