Will the 'real' Bonfire stand up?
Tough task against older horses for Derby disappointment
Last Updated: 03/07/12 1:35pm
Bonfire: Up against dome 'very good' older horses
Andrew Balding is inclined to put a line through Bonfire's run in the Derby and is feeling confident ahead of his colt's run in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday.
The Highclere Thoroughbred-owned runner landed the Dante in impressive fashion at York and was considered to be the main danger to Camelot at Epsom but, for a number of reasons, he didn't fire.
Balding has freshened him up since, however, and while the Kingsclere trainer is well aware of the task at hand, he feels he is capable of shaking up the big guns.
"He's been in good form," Balding told At The Races.
"We were a little bit worried as he didn't run his race at Epsom and I was a bit worried he might be sore coming back, but he came out of it very well and we've been delighted with him since.
"It's a great time span between the races and I think we'll have him as good as we can get him for Saturday.
"I think it was a combination of things at Epsom. We always said the Dante was close enough in proximity to the Derby as a trial and the track itself (didn't help).
"He just didn't operate. It was plain to see that as soon as they started the descent he wasn't going forward and that's very unlike him.
"We've just put a line through it and we'll carry on and hope to see the real Bonfire on Saturday.
"He will always just do enough. He's not going to quicken six lengths clear of a lead horse, he'll go a length clear and prick his ears, that's him, you're never going to be blown away by him, but I've been very happy with the way he's been going.
"Sometimes you get a year when the Eclipse cuts up but sadly this isn't one of them. I think there's some very good older horses in there. Nathaniel, Cityscape is a major international winner, Crackerjack King and, of course, So You Think.
"He'll have a break after this whatever happens and come back for an autumn campaign but he'll be targeted at what he achieves on Saturday."
Alain de Royer-Dupre's filly Giofra was second to Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix Ganay but she will only make the journey if the ground is not too soft.
"We have to decide whether to go or not. If not Sandown she may go to Newmarket for the Falmouth," said Royer-Dupre.
"It will depend on the ground, the filly is better on firm ground, she's a Dansili, and the competition looks very high in the Eclipse.
"I don't know how much rain is forecast, I'll have to have a good look to decide.
"She looks well. We ran in the Prix D'Harcourt to ensure she had a good prep after the Prix Ganay and she looks very well. She's never travelled a long way but she looks calm and I hope she can do it."