The Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2)

Stellar Mass and Kevin Manning going out to win the G3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown last year.

The Queen’s Dartmouth returns to defend the crown he won last year when he beat Highland Reel.

Since then he hasn’t advanced like the one he beat.

Next time out he was third in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Highland Reel turning him over to win by 4L. He filled the same position in the Newbury Arc Trial. It was a better performance when he stepped back up to G1 level when running second to Erupt in the Canadian International at Woodbine at the end of his season. His comeback run this season was good, he beat Simple Verse in the G2 Yorkshire Cup a neck. Should he be victorious it will be an eleventh win in the race for Sir Michael Stoute including four of the last five.

Idaho has yet to show us he has the ability of his full brother Highland Reel. In ten run’s he only won twice, a maiden first time out and the G2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last year. Since unseating Seamie Heffernan in the Leger he could only manage fifth in the Canadian International and on his seasonal debut he was given a hands and heels ride in the Coronation Stakes when 7 1/4 L behind his elder brother. He’ll come on an awful lot from that run.

Wings Of Desire ran second in the King George and then disappointed in the International at York where he was well beaten. He makes his reappearance here and his fitness will have to be taken on trust. His stable mate Western Hymn has had the benefit of a winning run in the Ormonde Stakes where he beat US Army Ranger.

Dal Harraild steps into G2 company for the first time over a trip short of his optimum. He will need some progression if he is to win this. The same applies to Muntahaa and the other Stoute inmate Across The Stars.

The Irish Derby form of last year may be significant here.

Harzand won a battle with Idaho by 1/2 L with Stellar Mass 3 3/4 L further back in third. Idaho’s effort was a step up on his Epsom Derby run and it’s arguably the best piece of form for this race.

A case can also be made for Stellar Mass. He won twice after the Irish Derby albeit in lesser company and his stable has really begun to fire in the last couple of weeks.

The Stoute horse will have been prepared to prime for this day in particular. That doesn’t mean he’s not vulnerable. The ground will a concern for him and could blunt him. Idaho will strip fitter since the Coronation and he will love the quick conditions as will a healthy Stellar Mass who is capable of outrunning his odds.

Recommendation : Idaho 9/2 win 

                                         Stellar Mass 50/1 ew


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