Hardwicke Stakes Betting Tips & Predictions – Ascot, Saturday 22nd June 2019

The Group class action just keeps on coming at Royal Ascot with one of the highlights on the final day at the festival being this contest for the older horses. The race has provided many a memorable moment over the years, including a famous victory for the Queen three years ago with Dartmouth.

We look to have a highly competitive renewal in 2019, and whilst a couple of runners arrive right at the top of the game, we fancy they may just be outclassed by last season’s returning Epsom Derby hero.

Top Tips

Masar to win @ 11/4

Odds correct at time of writing but may have changed since. Check site for latest prices.

Race Info

Run over the Derby distance of 1m4f, this Group 2 contest offers £225,000 in total prize money and is set to be take place on good to soft ground this year.

GoingDistanceGradePrize MoneyRunnersEW Terms
Good to Soft 1m4f Group 2 £225,000 9 Runners 1/5 1-3

Recent Winners

Few contests at the Royal meeting have been dominated to such an extent by a single trainer as this one. Sir Michael Stoute has an unsurpassed record in this race with 11 wins in total; including four of the last five editions.

The stats would suggest we stick with those horses in winning form, with eight of the last 10 winners having scored last time out.

2018 Crystal Ocean 4/7 Sir Michael Stoue Ryan Moore
2017 Idaho 9/2 Aidan O’Brien Seamie Heffernan
2016 Dartmouth 10/1 Sir Michael Stoute Olivier Peslier
2015 Snow Sky 12/1 Sir Michael Stoute Pat Smullen
2014 Telescope 7/4 Sir Michael Stoute Ryan Moore

Analysis: Appleby Ace Top Of The Pack

As ever his Group 2 contest looks to be an excellent event for the grade, with the field containing a clutch of Group race winners, including two who scored at the very top level last time out.

Defoe On Target?

If judged solely on the best of this season’s form, the one they may all have to beat here is Roger Varian’s five year old, Defoe. Now a four-time Group race winner, he bounced back from a slow start to the season to post a career best performance in the Group 1 Coronation Cup over this trip last time out. Too good for the likes of Kew Gardens, Salouen and Lah Ti Dar that day, this race does look stronger – but not significantly so – and he boasts every chance if able to repeat that level of form.

Masar The Comeback King

The second runner in the field to have scored in a Group 1 in his most recent start is Charlie Appleby’s Masar. It wasn’t just any Group 1 this son of New Approach landed either, as he claimed the biggest prize of the lot when clearing away to victory in the Epsom Derby. The big question mark against him is that was the 2018 Derby, and he hasn’t been seen at the track since.

It seemed to take connections a while to decide on his target for the week, but in the end they have forgone a tilt at the Group 1’s in favour of this – in theory at least – easier challenge. He’s three pounds ahead of the field on official ratings, clearly a top class performer on his day and, if fit and well, ought to go very close indeed.

Mirage Chance No Illusion

Many racing fans may choose to save themselves the bother of looking through the form book when it comes to this race, and opt instead to simply back anything hailing from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute. With Stoute having claimed top spot six times here in the past nine years, and a record setting 11 times in total, it’s a strategy which is difficult to knock.

The horse bidding to continue that incredible run of success this year is the Frankel colt, Mirage Dancer. A narrow second to Barsanti, and an unlucky in running fifth in the Wolferton in his two previous starts at Ascot, he handles the track well enough and arrives on the back of a solid win in Listed company last time out.

Final Verdict: Masar to win

The presence of both Communique and Salouen will likely ensure this is a true test at the distance, which may just run the finishing burst out of Mirage Dancer. Defoe ought to go well, whilst Aidan O’Brien’s Southern France is the one who will be suited should this turn into a real stamina test.

The one for us though is the current favourite for the race Masar. A brilliant nine-length winner of the Craven last season, in addition to that Derby success, he has the class and versatility to adjust however this pans out, and looks a fair price despite that question mark regarding his race fitness.


Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire
Wimpole Hall, Home of the Earl of Hardwicke, Photo © Michael Garlick (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Five years after the 5th Earl of Hardwicke took up the role as Master of the Buckhounds, a race called the Hardwicke Stakes was born. The creation of the one and half mile event happened a long time ago, back in 1879, but it’s appeared regularly at Ascot ever since. Today it takes its place on the final day of Royal Ascot, helping ensure a climatic end to the five day Festival.

Group 2 status means it’s not the highlight contest of the day but the Hardwicke Stakes is nevertheless a race that piques interest among racing fans. Not least because leading horses often return to the Berkshire course a month later to try their luck in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The last horse to successfully win both races in the same season was Harbinger in 2010.

Hardwicke winners seek more Ascot success

As touched on above, those that perform well in the Hardwicke Stakes will often return to Ascot for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. This contest therefore can be seen as a sort of trial run ahead of the incredibly lucrative Group 1 contest. Although there’s not been a double winner since the aforementioned Harbinger in 2010, as the table below shows, Hardwicke winners rarely find themselves outclassed as they seek another win and have often done enough to nick a place.

Hardwicke Winners’ King George Performance: 2011 - 2018

Year Hardwicke Winner King George Finish Distance Beaten
2018 Crystal Ocean 2nd Neck
2017 Idaho 3rd 5 ¼ lengths
2016 Dartmouth 3rd 4 lengths
2015 Snow Sky 6th 6 ¾ lengths
2014 Telescope 2nd 3 lengths
2013 Thomas Chippendale Didn’t run -
2012 Sea Moon 5th 2 ¼ lengths
2011 Await The Dawn Didn’t run -

Stoute Winning the Battle with O’Brien

If there are two trainers you expect to have some involvement in this race, it’s Sir Michael Stoute and Aiden O’Brien. The pair regularly have at least one runner in the mix for the Group 2 prize and so far it’s Stoute who is proving the dominant force. The Barbados-born trainer has a giant 11 victories compared to just three from the illustrious Irishman. Over the coming years it will be fascinating to see if O’Brien can stem the tide or if Stoute’s superiority can extend even further.

Michael Stoute v Aidan O’Brien in the Hardwicke Stakes

Year Top Stoute Performer Position Top O’Brien Performer Position
2018 Crystal Ocean 1st Cliffs of Moher 3rd
2017 Dartmouth 4th Idaho 1st
2016 Dartmouth 1st Highland Reel 2nd
2015 Snow Sky 1st - -
2014 Telescope 1st Eye of The Storm 9th
2013 Sir John Hawkwood 7th - -
2012 Sean Moon 1st Memphis Tennessee 12th
2011 - - Await the Dawn 1st
2010 Harbinger 1st - -
2009 Doctor Fremantle 7th - -
2008 Maraahel 3rd Macarthur 1st
2007 Maraahel 1st Scorpion 2nd
2006 Maraahel 1st - -

Maraahel denied a famous hat-trick

As you can see above, Maraahel had to settle for third place when attempting to make it three victories in this race. A Hardwicke hat-trick has only been managed one before during its long history by a horse named Tristan (1882-1884). Once described as “a very vile-tempered animal”, he enjoyed a hugely successful career in which he also won the Champion Stakes on three occasions. How close did Maraahel come to matching Tristan’s record in his race? Not close at all really. A one-paced finish saw Michael Stoute’s horse quickly fade as the leading pair beat him by five lengths.

Eddery joins fine company

Lester Piggot remains as the leading jockey in so many top races but it’s an honour he must share in the Hardwicke Stakes. In 1998, Pat Eddery, the 11-time Champion Jockey, made it a record-levelling win number seven as he rode Posidonas to victory. Although this final win came long after Piggott’s retirement, the pair did compete against each other many times in this contest. They were even responsible for all the four winners between 1974 and 1977 with two victories each. Seven titles is more than Eddery managed in any Group 1 race so his achievement in the Hardwicke is certainly a notable one.

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