Hardwicke Stakes betting tips from Royal Ascot 2018 given by Horsebetting.com expert say Crystal Ocean is a worthy favourite to further enhance Sir Michael Stoute’s brilliant record in the 1m 4f Group 2 contest on Saturday, 23 June. Idaho, who won the race last year for Aidan O’Brien, is the obvious danger, while the horse who chased him home 12 months ago, Barsanti, looks a value each-way bet. Find out why by reading our 2018 Hardwicke Stakes betting tips preview.Crystal Ocean a Stoute bet for Hardwicke successSir Michael Stoute is now out in front as the trainer with the most Royal Ascot winners in history after eclipsing the great Sir Henry Cecil, and has a worthy favourite for the 1m 4f Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes in the shape of Crystal Ocean on Saturday (15:05).
Stoute has saddled eight different horses to win this valuable prize on a record 10 occasions, including in three of the last four renewals. Four-year-olds, meanwhile, are on a decade long winning streak in the Hardwicke, so Crystal Ocean represents the perfect yard and has the right age profile for the contest. After seeing Permian confirm the form of last year’s Dante at in the King Edward VII Stakes, this son of Sea The Stars turn things around on Royal Ascot runner-up Khalidi in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Quickening clearing to lead before the furlong marker in the hands of Ryan Moore, Crystal Ocean ran on strongly for a comfortable 3 1/2 lengths success. The way he finished off the race meant connections sent him to the St Leger at Doncaster on his final start of last season. Crystal Ocean only found himself held half-a-length in the final British Classic of the year by Irish raider Capri. He is now rated 2lb higher than the Leger winner after coming out and landing both of his starts as a four-year-old to date.
An official mark of 122 puts Crystal Ocean 4lb clear of the field in this off level weights. Although only just winning on reappearance in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, that Group 3 is over 1m 2f and the mile-and-a-half in this looks to be his optimum trip. For further evidence of that, see Crystal Ocean’s last run when he was a facile six-length victor in the Aston Park Stakes at Newbury. Moore simply pushed him clear after taking up the running two out.
While this is a step back up in grade for Crystal Ocean, everything suggests he is the one to beat in this. He’s therefore our recommended punt among 2018 Hardwicke Stakes betting tips.Idaho seeking back-to-back winsOne of the few handlers to have prevented Stoute’s stable completely dominating this race is Aidan O’Brien, and last year’s winner Idaho is back bidding for consecutive victories. The five-year-old brings impressive placed form in the Epsom and Irish Derbies of 2016, as well as a win in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival that season. Idaho ran on well when produced to lead inside the final furlong in last year’s Hardwicke to beat the re-opposing Barsanti by half-a-length.
After placing behind wonder filly Enable in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes over course and distance, connections then sent Idaho pot hunting around the world. This horse has been highly tried at the highest level, but Group 1 success has proved elusive.
He has won a Group 3 this season, however, when staying on well to land the Ormonde Stakes at Chester’s May Festival by 3 1/2 lengths. Idaho was well-beaten on his other starts either side of that ease in grade though, and has to try and make up 4lb on ratings with Crystal Ocean. As he in turn is 3lb clear of anything else in the field, it would be no surprise to see Idaho chase Stoute’s latest middle distance star home. Idaho is as close a danger as Crystal Ocean should encounter here.Barsanti the each-way betThe runner-up in the 2017 renewal Barsanti is back for another bite at the cherry and represents a bit of each-way value in this small but select field. Trained by Roger Varian, the six-year-old has added a Listed win to his CV this season when holding on well over course and distance to defeat Mirage Dancer by a neck. That rival came out and won next time out in the same grade at Goodwood.
The third home, Salouen, almost caused the mother of all shocks with a brave front-running display next time out in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom when just touched off by a Cracksman and going down by a head in the final strides. It gives the form a solid look. Although he has John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes conqueror Rare Rhythm re-opposing here, they are now rated the same and, given the drop back in trip from that race to this, it would be no surprise to see Barsanti turn the tables on that rivals.
He represents a stable in-form, while regular pilot Andrea Atzeni has ridden a winner at Royal Ascot already this week. Treated on the pick of his form, off a mark of 115 that is not beyond him and at the odds on offer, Barsanti looks great each-way value.Your Next Bet