Andrew Balding’s exciting three-year-old prospect Bonfire looks set to make his seasonal reappearance at Chester’s May meeting when contesting the Group 3 Addleshaw Goddard Dee Stakes at the Cheshire venue on May 11, where a positive outcome could see him line up for the Investec Derby at Epsom three weeks later, writes Elliot Slater.

Currently offered at a best price of 20/1 in the ante-post list for the blue riband mile-and-a-half contest at the unique Surrey track, punters with an interest in Epson derby betting will be hoping to see the son of Manduro perform well around the sharp Chester circuit where horses who prove well balanced enough to do themselves justice often go on to run well at Epsom.

Certainly Bonfire did very little wrong in his two outings as a juvenile having made a fine start by winning a Salisbury maiden in late-September by a couple of lengths from Cubanita, who duly went on to justify favouritism in her only subsequent outing in a Nottingham maiden. Balding however was well aware he had a potentially smart performer on his hands and immediately stepped Bonfire up to Group 1 company, sending him across the Channel to France in late-October where he was faced with quality opposition in the Grand Criterium de Saint Cloud over a mile on testing ground.

In a race run at a typically steady pace for French pattern contests Bonfire was held up at the rear of the 11-runner field, and after struggling to find a gap at a crucial stage of the contest he came through strongly in the final furlong to finish a length-and-three-quarters third to this season’s subsequently impressive winner French Fifteen. With the form of his French outing having already been stamped Balding’s colt is expected to go well at Chester, and hopes are high he will prove good enough to take his chance at Epsom on the first Saturday in June.

The pre-cursor to the derby is the 10meeting at Newmarket, where the 1000 Guineas Betting markets are already hotting up.

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