Flat racing in general tends to be aimed at younger horses, with Royal Ascot being no exception. What makes the Hardwicke Stakes interesting, therefore, is the fact that it is open to horses aged four and over. There is no limit according to gender, with the weight information being nine stone and one pound, with fillies and mares given a three pound allowance. Run over one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards, the race was inaugurated in 1879, when it was for horses aged three and over. Run right-handed, it is one of a number of Group 2 events that take place during the week.
As with numerous other races run during the Royal Ascot Meeting, the Hardwicke Stakes was named after someone who operated as the Master of the Buckhounds. In this instance, that person was the fifth Earl of Hardwicke, hence the title given to the event. The race is held on the final day of the meeting and horses that do well in this event will sometimes return to Ascot the following month in order to compete in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Aureole became the first horse to win both races in the same season back in 1954, for example.
First run in 1879 as a race for horses aged three and over, the Hardwicke Stakes is one of only a few races run for the week of Royal Ascot that has been won by the same horse more than once. That is in no small part due to the fact that it is also one of only a few events open to horses aged four and over, allowing horses to take part in it more than once. As a result, Tristan can lay claim to being the race’s most successful horse, having won this event in 1882, 1883 and 1884. It takes place on the Saturday of Royal Ascot week, being the final Group 2 race of the meeting.
The last three-year-old winner of the race was Helioscope, who won it at that age back in 1949. Nowadays horses have to be at least four in order to take part in the event, but no horse has won it more than once since Maraahel managed it in 2006 and 2007. As with many of the events that were being run at the time, the Hardwicke Stakes was moved to York on account of the fact that Ascot Racecourse was closed for refurbishment at the time. It isn’t the only time it hasn’t taken place as planned, with the 1964 running abandoned because of a waterlogged track.
In 1991, the race was won by Topanoora after a photo finish, with Rock Hopper being the challenging horse. Topanoora was adjudged to have won by a short head, but a stewards’ enquiry was carried out and Topanoora was relegated to second place. As a result, Rock Hopper was declared to be the winner. It is an example of how the result can change quickly if the stewards decide that something untoward happened during the course of the race, as was the case with Topanoora in the event during the early part of the 1990s.
About The Race
As with so many races run during the week of Royal Ascot, the jockey that has tasted success in this event more than all but one other jockey is Lester Piggott. He won it seven times between 1955 and 1985, being joined on seven victories by Pat Eddery. Eddery, for his part, won his first race in 1975 and his last one in 1998, meaning he won his seven victories over a period of 23 years rather than 30. You can decide for yourself which is the more impressive achievement, given the fact that Lester Piggott was well beyond the age most jockeys retire at in his final win.
Of the seven wins racked up by Pat Eddery, only three of them were for Sir Michael Stoute. That is relevant because Stoute won the race 11 times as a trainer. Of those, four of the victories were from two horses, with Rock Hopper following up that fortuitous win in 1991 with another a year later and the aforementioned Maraahel also being trained by Stoute. Because horses aged four and over can enter the race, there have been a few examples of horses winning it more than once. The most successful horse, however, is Tristan, who achieved three successive wins between 1882 and 1884.
As one of the oldest races run during the week of Royal Ascot, it is fair to say that there is a decent bit of trivia associated with the Hardwicke Stakes. It is often seen as an important race to tell you what to expect in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, for example, with Harbinger being the most recent winner of both back in 2010. Here is some other good trivia:
Do Your Research
This is a race that lends itself to a fair bit of research for those that wish to try to win any wagers put on it. Between 2012 and 2022, for example, all ten of the winners had won a Group race before taking part in this one. Nine of them won as four-year-olds, with only ten-year-old Defoe bucking that trend in 2019. Of the ten winners, nine of them had finished in the top two in their previous race, whilst eight of the ten had finished in the first three in either a Listed or a Group race earlier in the season. All of which are factors that you can look into before placing any bets.
Expect A Race Of About Two & A Half Minutes
The quickest time that this race has been run in since records began was 2:26.28, which was achieved by Bandari in 2005. The majority of winners of the race have finished within around seven seconds of that time, which shows you just how poor the conditions must have been for the longest versions of the event. Soderini was victorious in 1965, finishing with a time of 2:59.70. The closest to that in relatively recent times came in 2011, which was when Await the Dawn completed the race first with a time of 2:38.40, showing that it isn’t just in years gone by when horses have struggled with the conditions.
The Hardwicke Stakes, a Group 2 horse race, adds a twist to Royal Ascot’s predominantly youth-focused flat racing landscape. Unlike most events, this race embraces horses aged four and over, without imposing any gender restrictions. The challenging distance of one mile, three furlongs and 211 yards sets the stage for a captivating display of equine prowess on Ascot’s right-handed track. Inaugurated in 1879 as a contest for horses aged three and over, the Hardwicke Stakes celebrates the legacy of the fifth Earl of Hardwicke, the Master of the Buckhounds at the time, after whom it was named.
Held on the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting, this Group 2 spectacle attracts top-class thoroughbreds seeking to etch their names in racing history. Tristan claims the coveted title of the race’s most successful horse, with three consecutive victories achieved between 1882 and 1884. The Hardwicke Stakes serves as an important form guide for the prestigious King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with notable examples like Harbinger achieving triumph in both races. Expect the race to unfold over approximately two and a half minutes, with jockey Lester Piggott gracing the winner’s circle seven times between 1955 and 1985.