Dartmouth Seeks to Defend Title in Hardwicke


Dartmouth (far right) finishing second in The Queen’s silks in last year’s Canadian International (photo via Woodbine Entertainment).

A field of 14 will go postward in the third race on closing day at Royal Ascot — the 1 ½-mile Hardwicke Stakes (GII) for 4-year-olds and upward. The Queen’s Dartmouth, who won this event last year, is back to defend his title off a win in the Yorkshire Cup (GII) at York last month. American racing fans will likely remember him as the runner-up to Erupt in the Canadian International (GI) at Woodbine last October, but he is a multiple group winner in England and has captured eight of his 16 career starts. Leading rider Ryan Moore rides for Sir Michael Stoute and a typical effort will make him tough to beat, giving his royal owner her first win of the meeting.

Coolmore sends out the Group 2 winner Idaho, who doesn’t win often but has proven consistent on two continents. After a long winter break, the Aidan O’Brien trainee had a prep for this race and figures to run better than the sixth he produced in that effort. He’s a good racehorse who may just need some luck. Jockey Seamie Heffernan rides and the pair will look to get a typical trip mid-pack, saving their best run for the stretch drive.

Lady Bamford’s Wings of Desire hasn’t raced in 10 months, but trainer John Gosden thinks this race is a good spot for a comeback for the Group 2-winning son of Pivotal. He’s already defeated both Dartmouth and Idaho before being sidelined, and he was second to division leader, Breeders’ Cup (GI) and Prince of Wales’s Stakes (GI) winner Highland Reel over this course a year ago. He may need a race, but he’s dangerous if fit. William Buick rides.

Post time for the Hardwicke Stakes is set for 10:40 a.m. ET.

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