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Bonfire Could Set Epsom Alight

From what we read in the general racing press, it would appear that Aidan O'Brien's Camelot only has to turn up for the Epsom Derby to claim the prize, but the Andrew Balding-trained Bonfire may just have what it takes to spoil the Ballydoyle party.

Photo by Bill Selwyn
© Highclere Thoroughbred Racing


Bonfire is a half-brother to Group Three victor Joviality and realised 90,000 guineas at the 2010 Tattersalls October Sale.

After winning nicely on debut at Salisbury in late September, 2011, he looked an unlucky loser when third behind subsequent QIPCO 2,000 Guineas runner-up French Fifteen in the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in October, after being caught in a pocket.

The son of Manduro returned this season with an impressive three-quarters of a length success over Ektihaam in the Group Two Betfred Dante Stakes at York on May 17.

So far Balding has had a 100 per cent record in Classics at Epsom Downs as Casual Look took the Investec Oaks in 2003.

At the Breakfast with the Stars event on May 24, Balding said: “Before this year, I haven’t had a horse who has got to this stage in the Investec Derby.

“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.

“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.

Jimmy Fortune, who partners Bonfire in the Investec Derby, said: “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.



b c Manduro (GER) - Night Frolic (Night Shift (USA))

Form: 13-1 Owner: Highclere Thoroughbred Racing - Pocahontas Breeder: Highclere Stud And Floors Farming

Race Record:
Starts: 3; Wins: 2; 2nd: 0; 3rd: 1; Win & Place Prize Money: £114,389



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