SATURDAY 3.40 HARDWICKE STAKES
Proven stamina isn’t always a vital asset in staying races at Ascot, but it’s important here Nine of the last ten winners had won over at least 1m4f. It tends to be the top middle-distance colts prepping for the King George, and those whose priority is 1m2f usually head for either the Prince of Wales’s or the Eclipse at Sandown. Recent form is also important, with nine of the last ten winners finishing first or second on their previous outing, seven winning. A good source of winners is Chester’s May meeting. Four successful in this since 2010 ran well in the Ormonde Stakes, while Await The Dawn (2011) was following up his victory in the Huxley. Last but not least, Sir Michael Stoute has dominated this race with an astonishing 11 victories. Two horses from that list, Rock Hopper and Maraahel, struck back to back, and last year’s scorer Crystal Ocean could seek to emulate them. Verdict It’s a carbon copy of 12 months ago. Crystal Ocean was dominant then, and history is on his side for a successful follow-up. He looked in good nick when warming up with a Group 3 win at Newbury, the same race he contested in 2018, and he can make it win number 12 for Stoute.