|Group 2, Ascot 15:40
1m 4f, Class 1
|Saturday 18th June 2016|
1 Dartmouth 10/1
2 Highland Reel 6/1
3 Almodovar 9/1
NR: Eagle Top
9 ran Distances: hd, 3¼l, 3¾l
TIME 2m 32.06s (slow by 3.46s)
Dartmouth wins the Hardwicke for Her Majesty The Queen
Racegoers at Royal Ascot had to endure a few nervy moments before they could salute a Royal winner when Dartmouth was declared the head winner of the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes over a mile and half this afternoon.
The 10/1 shot slightly came across the track and came close to the runner-up, Highland Reel, but the stewards concluded that the jockey, Olivier Peslier, was not at fault and the result stood, which produced the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
The victory gave Sir Michael Stoute his 75th Royal Ascot winner, which equals the late Sir Henry Cecil's record at the meeting, and the trainer revealed shortly afterwards that he was certain his colt would keep the race. Dartmouth was Her Majesty's 23rd winner at Royal Ascot.
"I couldn't see the stewards taking it away from him," said Stoute.
"He's a very progressive horse. He started the season on a rating of 101 and we got ambitious and went for the John Porter (at Newbury) and then we ran him in the Ormonde Stakes (at Chester) and he had to up his game again today.
"He was drifting in the betting quite dramatically but I don't know why. The Queen loves a winner anywhere but particularly here of course. I wasn't nervous at all during the stewards' enquiry. I don't think The Queen was either. I saw the replay and I couldn't see anything happen - especially after the 5.00pm yesterday when my horse was murdered and nothing happened (Kings Fete - who was hampered when third in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap).
"Olivier switched his whip so quickly and, although he did lean on the other horse, nothing really happened. The Queen was beaming after the result of the enquiry was announced. She just loves the game really. It made me realise just how much she knows about the game - she's very knowledgeable. It's a big thrill to equal Sir Henry's record. It's very poignant. 75 Royal Ascot winners is a great mark to reach and I hope it doesn't stop there.
"It means so much to the yard. Royal Ascot carries much more importance now than in the past because there is so much international presence and there is so much more international coverage - there's a big build-up. There are a lot of disappointments as well - many more than victories. When we stepped him up to the John Porter, he showed his class and answered the questions there. So we sent him to Chester to see how he fared there. After that, we had to come here.
"I don't know what we will do with him now. As for the King George, we'll have to see. Ryan (Moore - who rode 6/4 favourite Exosphere, also trained by Stoute) had the choice of mounts. I can see why after his performance at Newmarket. But he didn't run well on tacky ground here last year. He's a beautiful-actioned horse. I certainly hope he's better than he showed here - he certainly showed that at Newmarket."
Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2)
£225,000 added, 4yo plus, 1m 4f, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft
|Pos||Dr||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||(4)||Dartmouth 10/1||O Peslier
|Sir Michael Stoute||4|
|2nd||(8)||hd||Highland Reel (IRE) 6/1||J A Heffernan
|A P O'Brien||4|
|3rd||(7)||3¼||Almodovar (IRE) 9/1||G Baker
|D R Lanigan||4|
|4th||(10)||3¾||Mount Logan (IRE) 16/1||Andrea Atzeni
|5th||(6)||3¾||Beautiful Romance 6/1||James Doyle
|S bin Suroor||4|
|6th||(2)||3||Wicklow Brave 16/1||W Buick
|W P Mullins||7|
|7th||(5)||1||Simple Verse (IRE) 7/1||Oisin Murphy
|R M Beckett||4|
|8th||(1)||4||Exosphere 6/4f||R L Moore
|Sir Michael Stoute||4|
|9th||(3)||1¼||Astronereus (IRE) 20/1||P J Dobbs
|Mrs A J Perrett||5|
|NR||(9)||Eagle Top 5/1||L Dettori
|J H M Gosden||5|
HIGHLAND REEL PLEASES O'BRIEN
Aidan O'Brien was satisfied with Highland Reel's effort in the Hardwicke Stakes, when the four-year-old finished the head second to Dartmouth. After a stewards enquiry, the placings remained unaltered.
O'Brien, who was chasing a treble on the day, said: "He's run a very good race, we're delighted to be second.
"The ground was a worry. We were nearly not going to run him but after a few dry days it was OK. He wasn't surrendering and is a tough horse.
Commenting on whether Seamie Heffernan dropping his whip in the straight affected the result, the trainer reported: " No I don't think so, he was running straight coming in and running his best.
"He might come back here for the King George in the hope for better ground."
Trainer David Lanigan was pleased with Almodovar's third place finish. He said of the 9/1 chance: "He's run with credit. I was always in two minds about whether to go a mile and a quarter or a mile and half, which is one of the reasons we ran him at Kempton because it's an easier track over a mile and a half.
"George (Baker) said that going back to a mile and a half, especially on that ground, just found him out in the last furlong.
"Looking at that run he's definitely the horse we thought he was. He's beaten some high-class horses today, so there is a lot to look forward to. Obviously I'm disappointed not to win, but I'm pleased he's running at this level.
"Today was the plan from the start of the year, it has been a big step up coming from a handicap to a Group race anywhere, but especially at Royal Ascot you never get an easy race. We will give him a couple of weeks and just sit down and make a plan. But it's nice to have him to look forward to."
Oisin Murphy, who rode the 2015 St Leger victor, Simple Verse, to finish seventh of nine runners,said: "I thought we went a nice even gallop and George Baker gave his horse (Almodovar) a lovely ride. I came there at the bottom of the straight and thought I might do something but her run petered out. Maybe we will find a reason for that - I'm not sure?"