The six-million dollar questions
SATURDAY 3.40 HARDWICKE STAKES
Will it be a repeat success for Crystal Ocean? Last season Crystal Ocean won at Sandown and Newbury before an impressive success in this 1m4f contest, and his trainer Sir Michael Stoute has followed the same route this year. The son of Sea The Stars looked as good as ever when powering clear for a two-length win at Newbury last time. The margin of that victory may have been four lengths shorter than in 2018, but it was a comfortable success in what looked a much stronger race. He went on to be narrowly defeated at the top level twice after winning this last year and, while that is frustrating, it means he avoids a Group 1 penalty and one would think he will take a fair bit of beating as his trainer seeks a record 12th victory in the race. Who can challenge last year’s winner? Aidan O’brien has won the Hardwicke three times and he is likely to have a strong hand. Kew Gardens, second on two starts this season, could lead his team. Coronation Cup winner Defoe could head to Ascot, while the likes of Ghaiyyath, Old Persian, Salouen and Coronet could give Crystal Ocean stiff competition.