Telescope: may skip the St Leger with next year's campaign in mindPICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Herbert issues St Leger warning over Telescope
THE odds about last week's impressive Great Voltigeur winner Telescope taking his chance in the Ladbrokes St Leger in 19 days' time looked considerably longer last night than the 3-1 on offer with the sponsor.
Harry Herbert of owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing said his instinct was that one of the season's most talked about horses is unlikely to run in the world's oldest Classic.
Herbert urged punters to back the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt only 'with a run'. Betfred offer 4-1 with that proviso. Most firms quote him at 5-1 in the regular market, while Ladbrokes are shortest with their 3-1 assessment.
Herbert said: "I wouldn't be at all convinced about him staying the mile and six at Doncaster, and my gut feeling would probably be that the Leger is unlikely.
"It's not black and white and I don't want to second guess a genius like Sir Michael, but what I say to people is don't back him for the St Leger unless it's with a run, because Sir Michael may want to go a completely different route with next season in mind.
"The key part of the Voltigeur was when he was asked to quicken - he showed that turn of foot to put the race to bed. But as to how much was left at the end? I would question his stamina for going beyond a mile and a half."
Keen to stress no discussion between the syndicate of owners - which include ex-Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson - and Stoute had taken place since York, and that the trainer would ultimately make the decision on where to go next, Herbert was minded not to dismiss the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which Telescope is generally 16-1.
"I wouldn't rule that out at all," he added. "It's a big difference; a mile and a half to a mile and six. If you get it wrong in the Leger you can really bottom out your horse. That really is the worry."
If both the Leger, for which Telescope would need to be supplemented at a cost of £45,000, and Arc on October 6 were bypassed, Herbert said he had no clue where Telescope - who is entered for the 1m2f Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes and Qipco Champion Stakes - would go, although he revealed his ambitions for next season.
He said: "He's an exciting prospect and hopefully he can go to war in the races we dream about having runners in, like the King George. I'm also sure there will be opportunities to bring him back in trip as well. You can't just right him off at a mile and a quarter off the back of one bad run [in the Rose of Lancaster]."
Herbert nominated the Cesarewitch as the target for Highclere's Ebor seventh Guarantee, but added that the Melbourne Cup dream for Opinion, very slowly away before finishing tenth in the same race, was on hold until 2014, although he still may be sent to Australia to acclimatise.