Bonfire has been cut to 5/1 second favourite for the Epsom Derby after a smooth victory in the key trial, the Dante Stakes at York.
Andrew Balding’s colt travelled easily throughout the mile-and-a-quarter Knavesmire test and jockey Jimmy Fortune still appeared to have plenty of horse underneath him when taking up the running inside the last two furlongs.
Morning gamble Fencing and Ektihaam both came with promising challenges, but Bonfire (3/1) had more than enough firepower to see them off and appeared to have more in hand than the three-and-a-quarter length winning margin suggested.
Several bookies make Bonfire a 5/1 chance for the Blue Riband on June 2, but Ladbrokes
were less impressed and still offer 8/1 as they have taken a view that favourite Camelot will be very difficult to beat.
The Magic Sign firm are shorter than all their competitors at 8/11 Camelot, clearly thinking the 2,000 Guineas hero is already home and hosed for a second Classic triumph.
Ektihaam was runner-up in the Dante Stakes and although Roger Varian’s colt would have to be supplemented for the Derby, he is a 25/1 chance with Stan James in the ante-post betting.
Balding, the trainer of Bonfire, said: “It was very good. He behaved like a professional most of the time and did it very well in the race. Jimmy was very impressed. It was a truly-run race and a proper trial.
“The second has had a run already this season and Jimmy felt we were getting a little leg weary in the final furlong, not through lack of stamina but through lack of race fitness so that’s all the more encouraging.
“We’ve only got just over a fortnight, but as long as he comes out of this well we’ve got to give Epsom serious consideration.
“It’s key at Epsom to get a position and it looks like he's got the ability to do that. But what do I know is I've never had a Derby runner!
“I've had a few runners there though, so I know what it takes. I just hope it doesn't take too much out of him.”