Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Balding backs Bonfire to spark

Thomas Kelly

Andrew Balding has put a line through Bonfire's run in the Derby and is feeling confident ahead of his run in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday.

The Highclere Thoroughbred-owned colt won the Dante in impressive fashion at York and was considered the main danger to Camelot at Epsom, but for a number of reasons he just never fired.

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.

"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," Balding explained.

"It's a great timespan 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.

"Sometimes you get a year when the Eclipse cuts up but sadly this isn't one of them. I think there are some very good older horses in there. Nathaniel, Cityscape is a major international winner, Crackerjack King and, of course, So You Think. He'll (Bonfire) 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."

John Gosden's Nathaniel was the main market mover last night as the proven soft-ground performer was cut to 5/1 from 8/1 by Coral.

As Nathaniel's price contracted, Aidan O'Brien's favourite So You Think was eased from odds-on to even money with several bookmakers as last year's winner would prefer better ground.

With no immediate end in sight to the heavy rain, this evening's Flat meeting at Fairyhouse has been postponed to Tuesday next week.

Fairyhouse general manager Peter Roe said: "We're gone, I'm afraid, it's absolutely saturated. We thought we might have a chance, but it just hasn't improved.

"We've had 173 millimetres of rain since June 1 -- which is more than the whole of January, February and March put together."

Conditions are no better in Scotland, where racing at Perth today and tomorrow has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Irish Independent

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