A brace of last season’s classic bronze medallists and the 2011 Melbourne Cup one-two put their lofty reputations on the line in the Hardwicke Stakes, but they will have to be at their best to see off Aiken at 4/1 in the Royal Ascot odds, who is unexposed at this level and unbeaten in six races.
Sea Moon has some top level form in the book, following up a third in last year’s St Leger with a second to St Nicholas Abbey over today’s trip in the Group One Breeder’s Cup Turf.
Having proved his well-being with a winning reappearance at Goodwood, he is set to be sent off as the market leader at 3/1, but perhaps crucially Sir Michael Stoute’s colt has yet prove himself on soft ground.
With successive evening downpours rendering the going soft for the last day of the Royal meeting, proven soft ground scorer Aiken can serve it to this Group Two field.
John Gosden’s four-year-old proved he deserved his place in this illustrious company last time out, pulling off a successful cross-channel raid at Chantilly, winning at today’s Group Two level at the first time of asking.
While most of his adversaries are classy enough to have previously scored on soft ground, Aiken has yet to taste defeat in his two runs on the going.
What is more, he is sure to be staying on when others have cried enough, having scored over this course and distance on heavy ground on Victoria Cup day.
Dunaden was three lengths behind Aiken when the latter obliged at Chantilly and is sure to give the selection something to think about on 7lb better terms.
Meanwhile, Calico Cat could be primed to run a big race at a working man’s price of 50/1 in just the fourth race of his career, having finished just four lengths off 2011 Irish Derby third Memphis Tennessee on his racecourse debut.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.