SOMETIMES in life we are all guilty of overcomplicating things and that looks the case again when trying to find reasons to oppose Kevin Ryan’s BRANDO in this afternoon’s Duke Of York Stakes (3.30pm).
The five-year-old is climbing the sprinting ranks at a rate of knots, finishing out of the frame just once in eight starts last season.
He kicked-off that campaign with a good win at Newmarket and followed that with narrow defeats at this meeting and then in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot.
A win at Sandown and a good second at the Curragh behind Mecca’s Angel was later topped by a monster weight-carrying performance in the Ayr Gold Cup.
That display suggested the son of Pivotal was potentially a Group One class performer and he proved just that at Ascot in October when a close-up third to The Tin Man in the British Champions Sprint.
Unlike three of his biggest rivals this afternoon, Brando has had the benefit of a seasonal pipe-opener when a snug winner at Newmarket last month.
He gave the eventual runner-up Ornate a fair bit of rope that day, but showed a blistering turn of foot to mow him down late on.
Looking at the last five winners of this valuable prize, only Society Rock (2013) landed the spoils on his seasonal reappearance, suggesting the importance of having a run under the belt.
The most obvious danger on paper looks to be Charlie Hills’ Magical Memory, who was an impressive winner of this last year having won the Abernant at Newmarket on his previous start.
Things didn’t go to plan thereafter, though, and his defeat in a blanket finish at the Royal meeting was followed by an underwhelming seventh behind Limato in the July Cup.
The ground went against him on his final start when tailed off in the Sprint Cup and he’s had plenty of time to recover from those exertions.
However, he has a little bit to prove now and is opposed at just 5/1, particularly after such a lengthy absence.
A bigger threat will surely come from the penalised The Tin Man, who finished in front of my selection at Ascot in October.
He’s a super talented sprinter but may just struggle to confirm that form with Brando on 5lbs worse terms.
If there is a value each-way bet in the race, it must be Suedois at 8/1, who ran consistently well in all seven starts last season, finishing in the frame in three Group One races.
He’s sure to run his race again, but may just have to settle for a supporting role again behind the fast-improving Brando.
The rest of York’s card looks particularly slippery, with plenty of wide-open looking big field handicaps.
Shutter Speed should win the Musidora (4.05pm) but that isn’t the bravest of calls considering she is a 1/3 shout.
Although the 20-runner 10-furlong opener (2.20pm) looks a betting minefield, I can’t help but throw a few quid at Charlie Fellowes’ French recruit REPERCUSSION at 9/1.
He ran well on his debut for his new yard at Newmarket and looks well worth a try at this trip.
Formerly with Andre Fabre, the Manduro gelding won’t mind the forecast rain and looks overpriced.
Wentworth Falls and Muntadab look the obvious ones in the six-furlong handicap (2.55pm) as both arrive here in great form.
Horses drawn low at this meeting last season seemed to have a slight advantage and both have what could be favourable single figure berths.
However, I’m going to take a chance on another at a massive price at the foot of the weights in FLYING PURSUIT at 20/1.
Tim Easterby won this race 12 months ago and is always to be respected on the Knavesmire.
The four-year-old hasn’t run as badly as his finishing positions suggest in two starts this season and has some good form in the book.
His mark has plummeted to 87 and he can go well from stall three.
Repercussion e/w 2.20pm York
Flying Pursuit e/w 2.55pm York
Brando 3.30pm York