Telescope - Leicester 18.07.13

Telescope: begins his eagerly awaited four-year-old campaign at Sandown

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Telescope likely to need first outing at Sandown

TELESCOPE, one of the unfulfilled talents of 2013, begins his eagerly awaited four-year-old campaign in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes on Friday with belief in his top-class potential still very much alive.

This time last year Telescope, whose owners include former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, was favourite for the Derby but, during an abbreviated campaign, did not get on the racecourse until July, nor run again after winning the Great Voltigeur Stakes in August.

He makes his reappearance in a race trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won three times in the past six years. Opponents include Godolphin’s Sky Hunter, whose only defeat was when third in last year’s Prix du Jockey Club when trained by Andre Fabre.

Telescope is likely to need his first start, according to Harry Herbert, managing director of Telescope’s owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

“We are really pleased with the way the horse has done physically from three to four,” he said. “He is much fuller this year and Sir Michael is very happy.

“There is a note of caution as to whether he will need this first run. He had a good blow after his last two pieces of work, which you would expect from a more mature, heavier horse. The Godolphin horse will be a tough nut to crack and Telescope will come on a bit for the run.”

Telescope and Sky Hunter were locked at the head of the betting at 13-8 with William Hill for the Group 2, which forms part of Channel 4's four-race coverage.

The going at Sandown on Thursday night was described as soft, good to soft places on the sprint course and good to soft, soft places on the round course. There is a chance of showers, some forecast to be heavy, on Friday morning and afternoon.

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.