European stayer Snow Sky is now no certainty to contest the 2015 Melbourne Cup after he recorded the biggest win of his racing career to date in the 2015 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Sunday morning.
Snow Sky took up the running in the early stages of the Hardwicke Stakes and he completely ran his opposition into the ground to record a dominant three and a half lengths victory from Eagle Top and Postponed.
Sir Michael Stoute confirmed earlier in the year that he was keen to send Snow Sky to Australia for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), but the veteran trainer said that he may have to change his plans with the Nayef colt due to the impressive nature of his Hardwicke Stakes victory, with the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot next month now an option for the four-year-old.
“I thought Telescope was our best chance in the race but Ryan said that he thought the ground was too firm for him,” Stoute said after the race.
“Snow Sky is a very progressive horse and I was really impressed the way he settled it off the home turn.
“I thought he was going to be a Melbourne Cup horse so he’s not entered in the King George, but we’ll have to have a think now.
“He’s won a few quid today.”
Jockey Patrick Smullen said after the race that he was always keen to put the pressure on the rest of the Hardwicke Stakes field when he got to the 600 metre mark, but even he was surprised with just how well Snow Sky travelled in the final stages of the race and was thrilled with the ease of his victory.
“The plan was to make it to the three pole and wind it up from there,” Stoute said.
“I was worried he might get picked off by a horse with a turn of foot but I didn’t realise I was on a horse that was so good himself.”
Snow Sky’s victory in the Hardwicke Stakes was his second straight win following his narrow triumph over Brown Panther in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2816m) at York on May 15 and he has now scored five wins from his 13 race starts.
Stoute has not had a runner in the Melbourne Cup since Distinction finished 19th behind Makybe Diva in the 2005 edition of the race, but he was the trainer of Fiorente before he joined the Gai Waterhouse stable and went on to finish second in the 2012 Melbourne Cup before winning the race a year later.