Telescope was eased in the betting for the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 1 after a “workmanlike” gallop before racing at Lingfield on Wednesday.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt worked over seven furlongs with two stablemates to help compensate for missing his intended prep run in the Dante Stake at York last week. He is making up for lost time after grazes he sustained on his legs became infected.
The Highclere Thoroughbred Racing-owned three-year-old will now face a make-or-break gallop at Newmarket on Saturday to determine whether he runs in the Derby.
Stoute, who supervised Telescope’s work at Lingfield, said: “We felt it was more of workmanlike display. He’s worked with these horses this spring and has been more impressive than that. I felt that he didn’t really switch off – even cantering down he was just taking a bit of a tug.
“Hopefully it will do him the power of good to get back to the racecourse as it’s been a long time. We will see what today has done for him, mentally more than anything else. We’ll work him on Saturday and chat again.”
Telescope worked alongside stablemates Commend and the 95-rated Opinion at the Surrey venue. The Ryan Moore-ridden Derby aspirant was keen to get on with it from the outset and galloped to the front two furlongs from home before crossing the line ahead of Opinion, and then Commend.
Highclere racing manager Harry Herbert told At The Races: “Anyone watching that, especially those who have seen the horse work in the spring, would say he lacked that usual zip. He hasn’t put in a performance that was as good as had been hoped. I suspect this is a combination of tongue-over-bit and freshness.
“‘Workmanlike’ is the right word for it. Ryan said it wasn’t as good as he’d hoped. The final piece of work on Saturday is obviously going to be critical. The clock is ticking. We will see what his piece of work is like on Saturday before deciding whether to go all out for Epsom or not.
“While this may have been disappointing, I suspect there might have been a reason for it. No horse is going to work properly with the tongue over the bit, hopefully we’ll see the real Telescope on Saturday and the dream will still be alive.”
The son of Galileo sprang towards the forefront of the Derby betting after he won a strong Newmarket maiden last September, but was eased by Coral to 8-1 (from 7s) for the premier race of the Flat season.
German challenger Chopin will be supplemented for the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 1.
Considered as the best three-year-old in his homeland, he was bought by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani after winning his last race by eight lengths and will be ridden by Jamie Spencer, who recently went to Dusseldorf to partner the colt in a piece of work.
The owner’s racing manager David Redvers said: “The plan is definitely to supplement him and he will run. His form was given a major boost on Monday when the horse he beat easily last time out (Global Bang) was just touched off in the German Guineas.”
He went on: “Chopin is in very good shape but we decided not to take him to the Breakfast With The Stars at Epsom because it’s only 10 days before the race. For the French horses, they can be back in their stable in four hours but it’s a much more drawn out journey back to Germany.
“It was considered it would be too unsettling for him so he’ll come over the day before the Derby.
“We think he’ll act on any ground. At Dusseldorf the other day it was soft which wasn’t perfect for him as he has a low, flat action. We’re sure he’ll cope well with decent ground.
“His trainer Andreas Wohler might not be that well known here, but he trained Lomitas (who won several Group Ones) and has won all sorts of good races in France. It never even crossed our minds to send the horse to anyone else when we bought him.
“We think he adds a bit of spice to the race. The Derby trials were slightly underwhelming in that nothing stood out, so much so that Dawn Approach hardened as favourite.
“In a normal year, a Guineas winner stepping up in trip would have plenty of dissenters but this year, maybe because of the opposition, people seem to think he’ll stay. There’s also Aidan O’Brien who we respect massively.
“It will be great to be involved but make no mistake, we are not running him just to have a runner, we think an awful lot of this horse.”
Jamie Spencer is likely to adopt different tactics on Havana Gold in Saturday’s Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.
Richard Hannon’s colt ran a blinder in the French equivalent, hitting the front inside the final furlong before eventually being run out of it into fifth.
However, he made up plenty of ground at Longchamp and connections are dreaming of claiming a Classic double this weekend, with Just The Judge running in the same colours in the 1000 Guineas.
“Havana Gold should be right in the mix,” said David Redvers, racing manager to owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani.
“He simply hit the front too early in the French Guineas and pulled himself up in front.
“This time he’ll be ridden differently, probably in typical Jamie Spencer fashion, in the aim of putting his head in front right on the line.”
First Cornerstone is set to make his seasonal bow in the Classic after a bad scope forced him to miss an intended run earlier.
Maarek is likely to take his chance in the Weatherbys Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday, rather than make the trip to Haydock for the Betfred Temple Stakes on the same day.
The six-year-old made great strides last term, culminating in victory in the Group Two British Champions Sprint at Ascot last autumn. He was a winner for trainer David Nagle on his seasonal bow in a Listed race at Naas but finished a narrow fifth to Society Rock in the Duke of York Stakes last week.
With Maarek relishing testing ground and the going at Haydock currently good, Nagle prefers staying closer to home this week, with the longer trip at the Curragh also in his favour.
He said: “We are leaning towards the Curragh at the moment as showers are forecast before the weekend and he would prefer the six furlongs there over the five furlongs in Haydock.”
Sugar Boy is not a certain starter in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
Trainer Patrick Prendergast is wary of running his Sandown Classic Trial winner on ground possibly not to his liking, with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby as his big target at the end of next month.
“He is in good old form but I might not run him on Sunday. I just entered him in it to have a look and I’ll probably run him in the Nijinsky Stakes (now the King George V Cup) over a mile and three furlongs at Leopardstown (June 7) instead,” Prendergast said.
“The ground is fairly good on the Curragh at the moment and I wouldn’t run him on firm ground before the Derby. We’ll take whatever way the ground comes up on Derby day.”
Paul Deegan is unsure whether to step Sruthan up to a mile and a quarter in the Gallinule.
The three-year-old colt was a pleasing winner of the Listed Tetrarch Stakes at the County Kildare circuit earlier in the month, but has not gone beyond a mile in an unbeaten two-race career.
“His last couple of pieces of work he has looked like he might stay, but we’ll have to see what turns up and what the ground is like,” said Deegan.
“I wouldn’t think he’d be out of his depth – he’s in real good form – so it could happen.
“He wouldn’t be out of place, I don’t think.”