Royal Ascot 2016: Exosphere hot stuff in Hardwicke Stakes
David Metcalf | June 17, 2016
Exosphere looks out of this world in Hardwicke Stakes
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has a superb record in the Hardwicke Stakes and Exosphere can further enhance it with victory in this year’s renewal of the Group 2 contest on the final day of Royal Ascot (15.40).
The Newmarket handler has won the 1m 4f race a record nine times, courtesy of Dihistan (1986), Rock Hopper (1991, 1992), Maraahel (2006, 2007), Harbinger (2010), Sea Moon (2012), Telescope (2014) and Snow Sky (2015).
In Exosphere he has a rapidly improving colt, who took his form to a new level on seasonal reappearance when romping to a four length success in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.
Devastating display against top class opposition
After travelling strongly behind the leaders under a confident Ryan Moore, the four-year-old cruised into contention two from home before taking up the running approaching the last and quickening clear to beat Simple Verse with consumate ease.
It was a devastating display to beat a dual Group 1 winner so comprehensively, and Exosphere had the six-runner field strung out like washing.
Judged on the manner of that performance the son of Beat Hollow has a huge engine and nothing to fear from the re-opposing Simple Verse.
Exosphere also looks the type who should have even more to offer, and with Moore once again in the saddle can take this en route to even better things.
Highland Reel feared most
Eagle Top commands plenty of respect on his nose second to Postponed in last year’s King George, over course and distance, but has been well beaten in three subsequent starts and looked as if he had fallen out of love with the game when just fourth in a Group 3 on return to action at Newbury last month.
To me the five-year-old has plenty of questions to answer after that effort, and Highland Reel looks a far bigger danger to the selection.
The Aidan O’Brien trained four-year-old is a very smart colt at his best and already has wins to his name in four countries.
Hong Kong Vase form very strong
In the last of those, Highland Reel beat Flintshire by 1 1/2 lengths in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
That is very strong form and, although Highland Reel has not been at his best in two starts this year, he was far from disgraced in the first of those when a keeping on to finish a 4 1/4 length fourth to Postponed in Meydan.
The son of Galileo also comes into the race having been given a break to freshen up, and it would be no surprise to see Highland Reel put in a much improved performance now eased in grade.
Coral’s top tip: The improving Exosphere looks well worth a wager to provide trainer Sir Michael Stoute with yet another winner of the Hardwicke Stakes. Highland Reel has some top class form in the book and can give him most to think about.