The Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot has an open look to it with a range of horses closely matched on form. Mogul, Japan and Wonderful Tonight would be the pick but all three have obstacles to overcome. The ground doesn’t look like it is going to suit either Mogul or japan (both floundered behind Pyledriver in the Coronation Cup in similar conditions). Of the pair Japan may not be as inconvenienced as Mogul, given he was a reasonably close up fourth in a soft ground Arc. He is a fair price for a proven Group 1 performer in a Group 2 race.
Wonderful Tonight won the Fillies and Mares race here on Champions day on soft ground. That was a good effort and she’d shown herself to be progressive before that. This is her first time racing against the colts and she has not been seen this season so, at the prices, she is overlooked.
This is a step up in class for the interesting Hukum, he needs to find a bit. Ilaraab is unbeaten since his debut. He’s been plying his trade in handicaps and this is a different scenario but he is very definitely going the right way. Broome has been running consistently and should be in the mix but may find a couple too good.
Highest Ground is a horse that Sir Michael Stoute has held in high regard for some time. It’d be no surprise to see him gradually progress into a Group performer but he has to find a fair bit. Stoute’s record in this is exceptional so he is feared but there ais a gulf between his Leicester form and what it’ll take to win this.
A mix here of horses that have been tried at the highest level and those that are progressive. I am inclined to think that doubts about Japan’s ability to produce a near peak performance in this ground have been over-played in the market and I think he is the selection. JAPAN (14/1 generally).
In the Diamond Jubilee (Ascot 4.20) GLEN SHIEL (15/2 bet3565, William Hill) will relish the soft ground. He progressed from handicap company last season to win four of his last six starts including a close up second behind Dream Of Dreams in the Haydock Sprint Cup before winning the Champions Day Sprint. He had a good pipe-opener in Ireland at the end of last month, finishing a fair fourth after weakening late on. There should not be much between him and Dream Of Dreams and this fellow is over twice the price. A load of other dangers, perhaps Happy Power at 33/1 would have a chance dropping back in trip and with some decent soft ground form for a yard who are on fire.