Favourite Telescope can reign once more

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Harry Herbert believes that Telescope’s strong pace can help him beat the rest of the Newmarket-dominated field at Royal Ascot this weekend.

The 6/5 favourite is looking to repeat last year’s impressive win in the Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday (3.40pm), but faces stiff competition to retain the title he emphatically won 12 months ago.

And ahead of the prestigious race, which consists of 11 Newmarket-trained horses out of the 13 entrants, Herbert is confident Telescope can triumph on the famous Ascot Racecourse once again.

“He is in great form and has physically done very well,” the racing manager of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old’s owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing said.

“It’s going to be a tough race, but I’d like to think he can go there and retain the title.

“He’s the favourite who is maybe too short a price as the competition is pretty fierce.”

Telescope’s main challengers will come from Newmarket trainers John Gosden and Luca Cumani, with Gosden’s Postponed and Cumani’s Eagle Top joint-second favourites at 4/1.

Gosden is also running Mahsoob, Romsdal and Gatewood, while Stoute can also call on runners Hillstar and Snow Sky to help clinch victory in the Group Two race.

Fellow Newmarket trainers David Simcock (The Corsican, Sheikhzayedroad) and Ed Dunlop (Red Cadeaux) are among the outsiders looking to take home the £113,420 first place prize.

“He loves Ascot and has never run a bad race there,” Herbert said about favourite Telescope.

“He’s got a strong pace and a good rhythm. Hopefully he gets on well on Saturday and is ready to pounce down the straight and win it again.”

Elsewhere, Cumani will be looking to break his Royal Ascot duck this week after drawing a blank at the meeting for the last four years.

The Italian-born trainer has the second favourite Mizzou in the Gold Cup today (4.20pm), and is hopeful of success in the two miles and four furlongs Group One race.

“He’s obviously got a good chance having won the Sagaro Stakes well,” he said. “The unknown is the extra half a mile in the Gold Cup, but we’re hopeful he’ll get it.

“It would be great to win a Gold Cup. Any Group One is a great race to win, but we’ve got tough competition from the favourite (Forgotten Rules) if he runs and Simenon.”