Royal Ascot 2015: Hardwicke Stakes preview (15.40)
Eagle Top shaped really well on seasonal reappearance and with underfoot conditions to suit looks decent value to win a competitive renewal of the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes and secure back-to-back Royal Ascot successes.
The John Gosden-trained colt had a progressive profile last season, winning on debut at Newbury before going on to land the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at this meeting in ultra-impressive fashion on just his third start.
Eagle Top missed the break in the latter, but made good headway on the outside two from home to take up the running at the furlong marker and sprint clear to beat Adelaide by 3 1/4 lengths.
The son of Pivotal went on to round off the campaign with an excellent fourth to Taghrooda in the Group 1 King George over course and distance on good-to-soft ground which was far from ideal, and that run suggested he would have even more to offer as a four-year-old.
That view was confirmed on reappearance at Sandown last month in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes, where Eagle Top travelled strongly for much of the contest before weakening late on to finish a 2 1/2 length fourth to Wstern Hymn.
Jockey Frankie Dettori was at pains to give Eagle Top as easy a time as possible over an inadequate trip of 1m 2f, and the step up back to 1m 4f is sure to suit.
It was an effort which suggested Eagle Top was being primed for this, and he remains open to plenty more progress after just five career starts.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won five of the last nine runnings of the race, and his Telescope is back to defend his crown after running out an impressive seven length winner 12 months ago.
The five-year-old went on to run some solid race in Group 1 company, and after getting surprisingly turned over at odds-on on seasonal reappearance got back to winning ways when running out the six length winner of a Listed contest at Newbury last month.
Telescope is undoubtedly a class act, but this is a stronger race than last year and he faces some lightly-raced and improving types.
One of those is the Luca Cumani trained Postponed, who could well give Eagle Top most to think about.
The colt ran out the impressive winner of the Group 2 Voltigeur Stakes at York on his final start of 2104, and has run well to make the frame in two starts this season.
In the last of those Postponed was beaten just 1/2 a length when third to Al Khazeem in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on good-to-soft ground, and the son of Dubawi now gets the fast ground he relishes and takes a drop in class.
Coral betting tip: Punters should swoop for Eagle Top before his current price shortens.