Brando can take starring role

Steve Hughes looks ahead to the best of day one of the York Dante meeting

One of my favourite tracks is York and their season gets underway with three days of action this week, headlined by the Dante stakes tomorrow. Wednesday’s card though is good too and I have two against the field in the opener plus a best bet for the big sprint.

York 1.50: First Eleven & Rare Groove

This looks tricky and whilst Fujaira Bridge is a worthy favourite after a good win at Doncaster last time, he is clearly tricky to train having raced so little until now and there is also a slight question mark around faster going. As such I have two sporting alternatives.

First Eleven twice came up short in group races last season, but he would not be a long way off that class and perhaps he is just better in quality handicaps. He certainly shone last year with wins at Newbury and Ascot, whilst in between times he was an unlucky third at Royal Ascot. All of those runs came on fast ground and he is a true galloper who should be suited by this track and long finishing straight.

Whilst you have to take his fitness on trust, that is not the case with Rare Groove who comes here off the back of a comfortable win at Hamilton last week. He finds plenty for pressure and is building up a good win record as he continues to climb through the grades. He did not stay 14f when ridden too prominently at this track last October. However at 12f there are no stamina worries and I think he will enjoy a strong pace in a big field.

York 3.00: Brando

There are a few old favourites in this line up and it is one of the 7yo’s in Brando that I fancy here.

The locally trained runner has not won in seven attempts on the Knavesmire but he actually has a solid record at the track, three times finishing runner-up, including in this race twelve months ago. He also has an excellent profile in the spring with finishing positions of 41210123 before the end of May.

He made his usual fine reappearance when third at Newmarket last month and this hold up horse could well be suited by the presence of plenty of pacesetters in this line up that could set things up perfectly for him.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – First Eleven – 1.50 York – 11/2 Paddy Power

0.5pts each-way – Rare Groove – 1.50 York – 14/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds first 5)

1pt win – Brando – 3.00 York – 5/1 William Hill, BetVictor, Boylesports

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