Hardwicke Stakes Guide

1. Communique

Trainer - Mark Johnston

Jockey - Franny Norton

The first runner in the Hardwicke Stakes is the Mark Johnston trained Communique who is horse that holds plenty of ability but does give a mixed bag of performances in the big races.

His second run of the season at Newmarket was one of his best to date landing the Roaring Lion Jockey Club Stakes, beating some nice runners.

Stepping up to Group 1 in the Coronation Stakes found him out slightly and if he wants to challenge in this field he will need to get back to his best and reverse some form.

2. Defoe

Trainer - Roger Varian

Jockey - Andrea Atzeni

This five year old gave a career best performance last time out when landing his first Group 1 in the Coronation Stakes at Epsom and off the back of that form has a live chance in this one.

This gelding has performed well all season but that shock win in the Group 1 at the Derby meeting has propelled him to a different level and is one to consider.

3. Masar

Trainer - Charlie Appleby

Jockey - James Doyle

The 2018 Epsom Derby winner Masar returns for his first run since landing the Group 1 Classic last year and if he performs anything like that run he will be tough to beat.

It does seem as if he will need the run after being off the track with injury for a long period of time but he does hold bundles of ability and is another to watch out for if being back to his best.

4. Mirage Dancer

Trainer - Sir Michael Stoute

Jockey - Pat Dobbs

Mirage Dancer is a classy five year old and in any other race would be feared, but it does look like he will need a career best to go close in this one but if there is one trainer that can do it, it's Sir Michael Stoute.

The trainer has a superb record in this race and Mirage Dancer on his seasonal debut landed a decent Listed contest at Goodwood and if giving that sparkling performance could enter the frame.

5. Morando

Trainer - Andrew Balding

Jockey - Silvestre De Sousa

The ground looks to be changing for the worst in Morando's case with the Andrew Balding trained six year old liking slow and soft ground and the Ascot turf constantly drying could see him find it tough.

He has won some nice Group 3's and started the season of nicely at Chester beating St Leger winner Kew Gardens easily. However, he was poor in the Coronation Stakes and it will take everything dropping his way to finish in the placings here.

6. Nagano Gold

Trainer - Vaclav Luka Jnr

Jockey - Cristophe Soumillon

This Czech Republic raider is the outsider of the field but does have some nice figures from doing the majority of his racing in France.

He is very much an unknown entity heading into this race but it looks as if it will be a stiff task to see him go close but there has been some big each way prices so far this week.

7. Salouen

Trainer - Sylvester Kirk

Jockey - Oisin Murphy

Oisin Murphy gets the leg up on Salouen who is a very progressive five year old and it is about time this horse landed his first group 1 after coming so close in previous events.

He has placed in some superb events during his career, at Epsom last year being pipped on the line by Cracksman in the Coronation Cup and finishing third in the same event this year.

He has landed Listed events with his last coming over course and distance on his seasonal debut and off the back of his two runs this year he has to be feared.

8. Southern France

Trainer - Aidan O'Brien

Jockey - Ryan Moore

The penultimate runner is Aidan O'Brien's only chance in the contest and this four year old has some smart form heading into the race from both his runs this season.

His seasonal debut at Navan was a good third behind Master Of Reality who finished a narrow third in Thursday's Gold Cup and on his latest he was a narrow second behind Gold Cup winner Stradivarius.

That form reads extremely well heading into this contest and he has to be taken seriously.

9. Lah Ti Dar

Trainer - John Gosden

Jockey - Frankie Dettori

The final runner is the superb Lah Ti Dar for top connections and she is the only filly in the line up and getting a nice allowance could mean all the difference.

She flopped in the Coronation Cup last time out but before that finished a good second in the St Leger last season and also won nicely at York in a Fillies Group 2 to start her season.

If she finds her best form she will be tough to beat but will need to be at the races to go well in a tough field.