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Hardwicke Stakes preview

Speed ratings expert Steve Lines, @sjlone1, got it spot on with his lay of Astrology on Friday, is there more success to follow?

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Hardwicke Stakes

Hopefully the weather will be kind to Black Caviar. A bog, where the draw may be a factor, is not what her sporting connections deserve, although the new straight course doesn’t get as soft as the older round course. This year, as last, being close to the rail on the round course seems to be a disadvantage; Astrology and Homecoming Queen, both short price favourites, failed to make the frame after racing close to the inside yesterday. In 2011 all the runners on the Saturday raced way from the rail.

The reasoning above makes Memphis Tennessee a risky proposition for today’s race. The likely pacemaker is ideally drawn in stall 1. Although he won on soft ground at Chester his previous form had all been on better ground; with Brown Panther running poorly (not seen since) at Chester he had only handicappers to beat. His run style means he is likely to go forward and unless Joseph O’Brien steers a wide course he’s an in-running place lay for me.

Aiken stole his Group 2 in France (Dunaden behind) when making all. Fast improving, he has some lofty entries; John Gosden has plenty of ammunition with which to compare him so he is likely to be competitive. He will have no trouble with conditions but he will have to improve again. He is likely to run well but at 4/1 he is priced up on connections rather than form. He has yet to post a speed rating which would see him winning a competitive Group 2.

Dunaden adds some lustre to the race. The 2011 Melbourne Cup winner has plenty of air miles and seems to handle any conditions. He is likely to be disadvantaged by the lack of pace; he has yet to win over 12f with less than 13 runners. Further rain or a positive ride is his best chance of success.

Hunter’s Light has form figures 1, 1, 1, 1, 2 when racing in Listed class or below; compared to 3, 6, 6, 3, 8 when in Group class. No brainer! The same sentiments apply to Calico Cat.

Ascot’s short straight will not aid Fiorente who takes an age to get rolling. Beaten into second by Nathaniel in last year’s King Edward VII he is well regarded but regularly gets outpaced.

Allied Powers is another unlikely to be suited by the lack of pace in the race. He is 0-5 in Group races in Britain.

The betting doesn’t suggest Testosterone (20/1) can be the first filly to win the Hardwicke since 1983. She will be suited by trip and going but has yet to show she’s up to this class.

Ed Dunlop’s other runner is the ultra-consistent Red Cadeaux; usually campaigned over further he has finished behind Dunaden twice. There seems no reason why he should reverse the placings. Although second in a weak Coronation Cup on his latest start he picked up the pieces behind easy winner St Nicholas Abbey.

Quest For Peace is difficult to read. He has yet to prove he handles soft ground and the fact he was purchased from the John Magnier empire infers he isn’t that good.

Jakkalberry was last seen when third behind Cirrus Des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey in the Sheema Classic. The form reads well but he was never in with chance of winning. A tough campaigner he will be suited by conditions and could be place material if cherry ripe after an 84 day layoff. He has front run successfully on a couple of occasions and with Silvestre De Sousa booked there is a chance Marco Botti may be trying to take advantage of the lack of pace.

Saving the best for last: Sea Moon. He would be a confident selection had he not had such a hard race on his seasonal debut when beating Dandino at Goodwood. He showed his class to repel a couple of challenges up the straight but it was not the gentle workout the Stoute team would have been hoping for. Suited by some cut he travels strongly and showed progressive speed figures throughout 2011.

The likelihood of a moderate pace set by Memphis Tennessee could compromise many of the field. The advantage of being able to settle close to the pace with the ability to quicken nearing the home turn will be vital. Aiken doesn’t travel particularly easily but finds plenty when asked so I will be backing him in running when Buick starts to push. I will look to lay Memphis Tennessee in running if he sticks to the rail – hopefully Quest For Peace, Fiorente or Dunaden will look to be ridden more prominently; pressuring Memphis Tennessee. I will back Sea Moon pre-race but will have a short price lay in place as insurance for the Goodwood ‘bounce’ factor.

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