Horses To Follow » Nanton


Nanton ran another huge race in another big handicap when he finished fourth in the Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday. Drawn in stall 21 of 31, over towards the far side, Daniel Tudhope took the (correct as it turned out) decision to come near side – he was the highest-drawn horse to do so. He tacked in behind the stands side group, but raced towards the centre of the track. He picked up well when asked to do so on what was almost certainly the slowest part of the track, and ran on well to take fourth behind the impressive winner Forgotten Voice, who raced from stall one.

To put the disadvantage of his draw into context, there were four races with 13 runners or more run on the straight course at Ascot on the day. The four winners were drawn three, one, one and four respectively. The first three home in the 27-runner Royal Hunt Cup were drawn in stalls one, five and four respectively, with the winner on the far side finishing ninth overall, 10 lengths behind the winner on the near side. The first three home in the 13-runner Queen Mary were drawn in stalls one, four and three. There was a lot of talk at Ascot on the day that there was no draw bias on the track, that if there was a bias, it was self-fulfilling, simply because the jockeys believed that there was a bias and acted to create it. Perhaps the bias was down to the strong wind on the day and not the ground, but the evidence is way too strong for any conclusion other than that there was a physical draw bias on the day as opposed to a perceived, notional, self-fulfilling one.

Second in the Cambridgeshire last October, and second in the Zetland Gold Cup last month, Nanton excels in these big field handicaps in which he can come from the back through horses off a fast pace, and if there is any justice in the world, one of them will drop his way soon.

© The Irish Field, 20th June 2009