Moon set Hardwicke poser

Michael Stoute’s highly-touted Spanish Moon faces 10 rivals as he steps up in class in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.

Having lost most of his three-year-old campaign to injury, the colt bounced back on his first run of 2008 as he came from an unpromising position to win impressively over this course and distance.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, said: “He’s in good nick but is obviously relatively inexperienced for this big step up in class.

“But he has been to Ascot before when he won very impressively in Listed company. This is obviously a different kettle of fish but we have always had a high opinion of him.

“He won his maiden at two very impressively at Newmarket and injured himself early as a three-year-old and only came back to run once at York in quite softish ground towards the end of last year.

“But he did it very well first time this season. That didn’t surprise us really.”

Among the opposition are stablemates Hi Calypso and Maraahel, with the latter bidding to grab a third successive victory in the race after winning in 2006 and 2007.

Last year’s St Leger winner Lucarno – who will only run if the ground is suitable – must concede 5lb to his rivals, while Godolphin will be represented by Happy Boy.

An in-form Aidan O’Brien team rely solely on Macarthur, with Multidimensional, Shahin, Speed Gifted, Supersonic Dave and Yellowstone completing the line-up.

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