Andrew Balding duo ready for Investec Derby

14:50 25 May 2012

Bonfire and Jimmy Fortune (right) beat Ektihaam and Tadhg O Shea to win the Betfred Dante Stakes during the Betfred Dante Stakes Day at York Racecourse, York.

Bonfire and Jimmy Fortune (right) beat Ektihaam and Tadhg O Shea to win the Betfred Dante Stakes during the Betfred Dante Stakes Day at York Racecourse, York.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

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Trainer Andrew Balding is keeping his feet firmly on the ground ahead of the Investec Derby where he is likely to be double handed with Bonfire and Minimise Risk.

The duo will be the first ever runners in the Epsom Classic for the trainer and self-confessed Derby aficionado who has high hopes for his 5-1 second favourite Bonfire and 66-1 shot Minimise Risk.

“For everyone who trains racehorses it is the race,” Balding said. “It has got over 230 years of history and sad people like myself look through the records of the past and you see all the great names there. I have most of the Derby racecards from 1964 onwards.

“Obviously, you have got to have the aspiration to have your name on the list as well. It is a big occasion and I am really looking forward to it. I am grateful for having two horses good enough, but would not let myself think (of what it would be like to win) because the Derby is everything.”

Balding has saddled just one runner in an Epsom Classic – making a dream debut when landing the 2003 Investec Oaks with Casual Look – and seeks to maintain his 100 per cent record on June 2.

“Before this year, I haven’t had a horse who has got to this stage in the Investec Derby, Balding revealed.

“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.

“We had a big meeting at the beginning of the year with the owners, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, and sat down to talk with Harry Herbert and John Warren about the best way to progress to June.

“Unfortunately, Bonfire had a dirty scope when we first hoped to run at the Craven meeting and the horse was getting bored and needed some stimulation. Carolyn Warren came up with the suggestion of sending him to Dan Jocelyn, a very accomplished event rider, who lives near us. We sent him there for a couple of sessions just to break up the routine.

“That helped and obviously we had the aborted mission to Chester, which might have dragged some horses down, but it seemed to really stimulate him which was good.

“I have to thank Minimise Risk, for not running Bonfire at Chester. Minimise Risk had handled soft ground when he won his maiden at Newbury but he could not handle the conditions at Chester at all because the ground was just so saturated.

“He is a progressive horse”.

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