Bonfire to light up Dante Stakes

Harry Herbert, racing manager for the owners of Bonfire, hopes the track at York will be to the liking of the 9/4 favourite for the Dante Stakes on Thursday (Betfred – ante-post betting).

The prestigious Group Two contest is widely regarded as the best trial of British talent ahead of next month’s Epsom Derby, with Authorized the last horse to complete the double in 2007.

Bonfire heads the betting going into the race after a win at Salisbury on his debut before he was unlucky to finish third in the Group One Criterium Stakes.

Bonfire was due to make his seasonal appearance at Chester last week in the Dee Stakes but connections decided against it given the difficult nature of the going.

Instead, owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing have decided to run him at York and Herbert hopes his performance will give an indication as to whether he could be a challenger for the Derby.

“I saw Bonfire on Monday and he looked in great condition,” he said.

“He has been training well and this race will tell us where we stand. Hopefully it will be the route that takes us to Epsom.

“We always thought that a track like York would suit him, but we were worried that with only 16 days between the Dante and the Derby that if we ran at Chester then we may have a bit more time.”

Bonfire’s owners aren’t the only ones hoping their charge has a good race with one eye on the Derby, with Mahmood Al Zarooni hoping 7/2 shot Mandaean can ruffle a few feathers.

Mandaean certainly looked the part when winning the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud and Zarooni hopes a run in the Dante Stakes will give the trainer an indication of what he is capable of.

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