The Hardwicke Stakes takes place on the final day of Royal Ascot and is the precursor to what is arguably the most prestigious race of the meeting, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
While its follow-up act is somewhat of a main event, the Hardwicke Stakes is nevertheless one of the bigger races of Royal Ascot and one not to be missed.
The Hardwicke Stakes is open to horses aged four and above. It is a Group Two flat race run at Royal Ascot’s right-handed turf course. Weight is 9st exactly with a 3lb weight allowance for mares and fillies.
The prize purse stands at £200,000 with £113, 420 of that going to the winners.
The field for the Hardwicke Stakes is usually relatively small and fancied horses have lived up to expectations on many occasions. This prestigious race attracts a high class of horse, with many going on to enter the following month’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
In its original format the race was open to horses from the age of three, with the last ever three-year-old win occurring in 1949 with Helioscope.
For the most successful horse in the Hardwicke Stakes we have to look back to the 19th century and Tristan, whose record of three consecutive wins from 1882 to 1884 has never yet been beaten. In recent years Assatis (1989–90), Rock Hopper (1991–92), Fruits of Love (1999–2000) and Maraahel (2006–07) have managed two consecutive wins but none has managed the hat-trick.
In terms of leading jockeys, two have managed to achieve victory here on seven separate occasions. The legendary Lester Piggott won in 1955, 1961, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1982 and 1985 with Elopement, St Paddy, Karabas, Relay Race, Meneval, Critique and Jupiter Island, respectively.
The feat was equalled some years later by Pat Eddery with two consecutive wins on Charlie Bubbles and Orange Bay in 1975 and 1976, Dihistan 10 years later in 1986 and Assatis in 1989, on Rock Hopper for both wins in 1991–92, and finally Posidonas in 1998.
The most successful trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has had nine winners so far and could increase that record over the coming years. Stoute was responsible for the last two double-winners: Rock Hopper and Maraheel.
He also claimed Dihistan in 1986, Harbinger in 2010 and Sea Moon in 2012 before going on to win with Telescope in 2014 and Snow Sky in 2015.
As one of the most exciting and eagerly-anticipated races at Royal Ascot, the Hardwicke Stakes is definitely one to watch on the final day of the prestigious meeting.