Betting Tip: @ 5/2 with bet365
The Hardwicke Stakes is a Group 2 for colts and geldings aged and over and with no penalties it is often one of the hottest races for the grade all season. This year’s renewal is no exception.
Sir Michael Stoute has won on less than six occasions in the last decade and he’s a short price to do so again, with his Exosphere put in at a best-priced 5/2. The four-year-old looks a typical improver for the stable and was an impressive winner of the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes on his reappearance at Newmarket in April, with last year’s St Leger winner Simple Verse (who re-opposes) left toiling four lengths in his wake. If in the same sort of form here, he’ll be very hard to beat.
Who else is fancied?
The Queen’s Dartmouth gives Stoute a powerful second string to his bow and, although he would probably be seen to best effect running over slightly further, having won over an extended 1m5f on his last two starts, it is clear he is a horse on the up. He will have primed to strike at this meeting for his owner and Olivier Peslier has been booked to ride.
Eagle Top saves his best for this track – form figures of 1422 here – and has a fine record at this meeting, winning the 2014 King Edward VII Stakes and finishing second in last year’s renewal behind Snow Sky. He was second again in the Group 1 King George (also run over course and distance), with the winner Postponed rallying after being headed to pip him by a nose, and that sort of form makes him a massive player. He does need to bounce back, though, as he was very disappointing in the Arc last October and again at Newbury on his reappearance.
Beautiful Romance looked to have improved when landing a Group 2 at York last time, but she still has a little to find on the ratings and would be the first female to score Stanerra in 1983. Likewise Simple Verse.
Any decent outsiders?
Almodovar is perhaps the most interesting of those at double-figure odds as he looked far more the polished article when making all at Kempton when reappearing at Kempton in May, having looked a shell of a horse last season, and the son of Sea The Stars won’t be disgraced on his first start in Pattern company.
Highland Reel has been campaigned around the globe in Grade 1 company and may appreciate this ease in grade, though the worry with him is that he is best on quicker ground. The remaining three runners are much harder to fancy.
Best bookie offer?
Anyone looking to take on Exosphere should head to Paddy Power as they are refunding losing stakes as a free bet (up to £25) if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite, while bet365 are one of several firms offering one quarter the odds rather than the standard fifth.
Who’s going to win?
Sir Michael Stoute’s record is too good to ignore and, while his Dartmouth is very much respected, it’s stablemate EXOSPHERE who looks the one to be on after his wide-margin success at Newmarket. His entry in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse is an indication of how high he is regarded and the sky’s the limit for him.
Exosphere 2pts @ 5/2 bet365
Betting Tip: @ 5/2 with bet365