Bonfire and his trainer aim to keep his Epsom Derby dream alive on his seasonal return in tomorrow's Stobart Barristers Dee Stakes on the final day of the Chester Cup meeting. The Manduro colt made a big impression when winning on his debut at Salisbury last September and then ran a fine third in the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.
Bonfire’s (10/1 to win the Epsom Derby) form could hardly be stronger given the winner, French Fifteen, won the Prix Djebel last month before running second in last weekend's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
His trainer Andrew Balding said: "I'm very happy with him. He showed he handles soft ground in France but he will have to handle it on his first run of the year, which is not ideal. He'll be entitled to come on for it but at the same time we think a fair bit of him so he should be very competitive.”
Balding, who won the 2003 Epsom Oaks, added "It was pleasing to see French Fifteen run so well in the Guineas, but there's no such thing as a weak Group One and to be third in one of those and be a little bit unlucky means he's probably the form pick. But a couple have already had a run which I think will be a bonus on this ground. I don't feel under any pressure that he's second favourite for the Derby but I just hope he runs well enough so that he still is after the race."