Burning drawn to deliver at last

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The Independent Online

When the first race on Ebor day includes a runner called Dunmebrains it is perhaps a little unwise to make bold predictions, but if wisdom had much to do with punting, we would all be bookmakers.

So, while Wishing and Sanmartino are both quoted by William Hill at 7- 1, a point away from favouritism for today's big race, neither horse can win. Nor, for that matter, can Lombardic or Saxon Maid, although both have long been prominent in the ante-post betting and have strong claims according to the form book. The history book, however, begs to differ. It shows that it is all but impossible to win the Ebor Handicap from anything higher than stall 12, and each of these runners is drawn in the high teens or worse.

It may seems bizarre that the draw can have any effect over a mile and three quarters on a broad, galloping track like York, and in other races over the course and distance it probably does not. In the Ebor, though, the pace is ferocious from the off, and a horse in an outside stall will be forced to race four or five wide throughout the long, sweeping turn which brings them round to the straight. It is like giving the rest of the field a five-length start, which in this race is the difference between having every chance and none.

Backers should concentrate instead on those drawn by the rail, and there are certainly plenty to choose from. Embracing and Foundry Lane, 6-1 joint- favourites with Hills, will make their presence felt, so too Son Of Sharp Shot, but the most appealing investment is BURNING (nap 3.10).

Guy Harwood's colt has progressed quietly but impressively this season, and built on an excellent sixth in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot by finishing fourth, having started his run from a long way off the pace, in a competitive race at Goodwood. An extra two furlongs has long seemed likely to improve him further, and he could have no better stage than the Knavesmire on Ebor day.

It is fortunate for the connections of Wind In Her Hair (next best 2.35) that the Yorkshire Oaks is the Group One event on the meeting's middle day rather than its last. The filly, runner up to Balanchine in last year's Oaks, is in foal to Arazi, and under Jockey Club rules, the pregnancy will be too far advanced after today for her to continue to compete.

As so often, impending motherhood seems to have rekindled Wind In Her Hair's best form, and she recorded the first Group One success of her career in Germany just 10 days ago. She can add considerably to her value by doubling that total this afternoon.

Royal Applause (3.45) is an obvious choice in the Gimcrack Stakes, but the form of his Ascot win is working out much too well to look elsewhere. Lucky Rabbit (2.05) will run well for the same stable, while Hunters Of Brora (4.15) is due a change of fortune.