Bonfire (right): Dante winner is all set for the Investec DerbyPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Balding hopeful Bonfire will set Derby alight
ANDREW BALDING will aim to maintain an enviable unbeaten record in Classics at Epsom as he prepares Bonfire for the Investec Derby next Saturday.
The trainer has had only one runner in a Classic at the track, and scored with Casual Look in the 2003 Oaks.
Bonfire cemented his Derby credentials with victory in the Dante Stakes at York and Balding, speakingon Wednesday at the track's Breakfast With The Stars event, said: "Before this year, I haven't had a horse who has got to this stage in the 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."
Stablemate Minimise Risk, who worked under Jimmy Fortune at the track, will leave Balding double-handed for the race and the jockey 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. I think he will stay but he is not guaranteed to stay - we won't know until the day."
John Gosden was also in attendance with last year's St Leger winner Masked Marvel, who worked under William Buick.
The four-year-old goes for the Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup on Derby day and Gosden said: "Masked Marvel is a lovely horse and he broke the track record when racing into a headwind at Doncaster which takes some doing.
"We ran him the other day in the knowledge that we needed to get him on the track, to let some steam off, but he did not like the ground. He worked well this morning and handled the hill better than he did last year [when eighth in the Derby]."