Bonfire Team Bullish
Bonfire Team Bullish
Sporting Life

Bonfire (right)

Bonfire continues to please trainer Andrew Balding as his preparations for the Investec Derby continue.

Owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, the colt emerged as the main market rival to favourite Camelot when winning the Dante Stakes last week.

“I was delighted with Bonfire at York – he did everything we could have asked for and he seems to have come out of the race very well,” said Balding at Breakfast With The Stars on Thursday.

“He gave a buck on the gallops yesterday which is a good sign – he is a naturally fit horse. It is very exciting.

“We had a big meeting at the beginning of the year with the owners, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, and sat down to talk with Harry Herbert and John Warren about the best way to progress to June.

“Unfortunately, he had a dirty scope when we first hoped to run at the Craven meeting and the horse was getting bored and needed some stimulation. Carolyn Warren came up with the suggestion of sending him to Dan Jocelyn, a very accomplished event rider, who lives near us. We sent him there for a couple of sessions just to break up the routine.

“That helped and obviously we had the aborted mission to Chester, which might have dragged some horses down, but it seemed to really stimulate him which was good.

“I have to thank Minimise Risk for not running Bonfire at Chester. Minimise Risk had handled soft ground when he won his maiden at Newbury but he could not handle the conditions at Chester at all because the ground was just so saturated.

“He is a progressive horse and he grew up in the same paddock at Highclere (Stud) as Bonfire and Camelot. It is quite amazing – there was Vow at Highclere as well and between Highclere and Kingsclere there is a little place called Watership Down (Stud which has Investec Oaks hope The Fugue) is close by so next weekend is going to be quite something for a little valley.”

Big-race jockey Jimmy Fortune added: “I was very impressed with Bonfire in the Dante – he travelled very well – we got there far too early but I was very impressed by the way he stuck his head out. He certainly won going away.”

Asked whether the horse’s temperament will withstand the hullabaloo of Derby day, the jockey replied: “Of course he will. People have gone on about this horse’s temperament. He is a jack the lad – he likes to do things his own way – but no way does he worry or get upset. He is very genuine and he is actually a very easy ride when he is going.

“I have not ridden him since York and I very rarely ride him at home – I think I have only ridden work on him three times. Leanne Masterton rides him at home.

“I think Bonfire will stay but he is not guaranteed to stay – we won’t know until the day. I really like the horse of Aidan’s (O’Brien – Imperial Monarch) who won the Sandown Trial. He impressed’me that day and I’d say he would be as big a danger as the favourite (Camelot).”

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