A Group 2 contest over a mile and a half, this is a race that normally goes to a genuine Group 1 horse. Sir Michael Stoute has dominated in recent years, taking seven of the last eleven contests. Read on for our Hardwicke Stakes tips and betting preview.
IN SUMMARY: As mentioned, Sir Michael Stoute has an exemplary record in this race and DARTMOUTH can land this race for the second year in a row. Muntahaa has a little to find with a number of rivals but has far more suitable conditions today than last time out and is an attractive each way option.
1 ACROSS THE STARS – The second Stoute string on ratings, he was a Royal Ascot winner last season – taking the King Edward VII Stakes impressively – but this is a much deeper race. He’s less exposed than a number in this field but is unproven on this faster ground. One to keep an eye on later in the season with a little more experience under his belt.
2 ARTHENUS – The likely outsider of the field, with the joint lowest official rating, James Fanshawe’s five year old has been largely campaigned in France. He has just a single Listed win to his name in five attempts at Stakes races and is out of his depth here.
3 BARSANTI – Rated just 108 – the joint lowest with Arthenus – Roger Varian’s five year is still relatively lightly raced. Conditions and trip will suit perfectly with his best performances on faster ground. However, he is yet to win a Listed race despite four attempts and despite continuing to progress he will find it difficult today.
4 CHEMICAL CHARGE – Talented on his day and never out of the top two until hating a first time visor last time out. A narrow Group 3 defeat to Muntahaa gives him chances if continuing to progress, but he is regularly overly keen and a lack of Ascot experience is another negative.
5 DAL HARRAILD – Extremely progressive last season and plenty of potential to improve aged just four years old. Improved for a disappointing seasonal reappearance to take a Listed York contest impressively. His best form tends to come on Good to Firm but he will need to take a giant step forward to win in this company against older, more experienced horses.
6 DARTMOUTH – The joint top rated horse in the field, his win in this race last year was the highlight of his season. He won impressively on seasonal reappearance at York 36 days ago under a clever ride by today’s jockey Ryan Moore, and the drop back in trip will see him in even better light. If not for the faster ground, he would be even shorter, but he has shown more than enough on this going to suggest he can win again today.
7 IDAHO – Representing top connections, this son of Galileo was narrowly beaten in both Derbys last season but his form has trailed off since. He has excuses, with the Woodbine track not certain to suit and today’s jockey Seamie Heffernan gave him a gentle enough ride once his chance of winning this year’s Derby has gone on seasonal reapperance. On his prime form he would have every chance but his win record of just two wins in ten is offputting at the odds available.
8 MUNTAHAA – Narrowly beat Chemical Charge at Newbury in April, but disappointed badly despite being strong in the market at York last month. The combination of the drop back in trip and return to faster ground should see him return to form and has each way chances at an attractive price.
9 MY DREAM BOAT – Sprung a minor surprise at this meeting last year in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at 16/1, beating Found by a neck despite hanging. Despite running well since he has failed to win again. Today’s bigger field and faster ground are both against him.
10 PRIZE MONEY – Godolphin’s only entry in this race, he was went off 10/1 for the Epsom Derby last month following two successes at Meydan earlier in the year. However, he struggled home in ninth and his inconsistent profile is offputting.
11 SECOND STEP – The winner of a Listed Goodwood race on his last start, this six year old has never quite lived up to his early promise and owners recently moved him to Roger Charlton. Third behind Muntahaa and Chemical Charge in April, his recent form doesn’t look strong enough to make him a danger here.
12 STELLAR MASS – Has beaten just one horse home in his last three starts since winning at Group 3 level last August. He was last of seven on his last start at his trip in a Listed contest having been sent off the Evens favourite and his form isn’t strong enough to feature here.
13 WESTERN HYMN – James Doyle gave our tip Big Orange a perfect ride to win the Gold Cup on Thursday and will be hoping for another winner on board this John Gosden six year old Royal Ascot. He has won his last two starts, in Group 3 and Listed company, and if building on those has previous form which gives him strong each way chances
14 WINGS OF DESIRE – Another trained by John Gosden, this four year old returns from 10 months off the track but has been well supported in the early betting market.s Winner of last year’s Dante Stakes and second in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, he’s joint top rated by the handicapper and is still lightly raced. There are obvious question marks but he has the talent to feature.