Bonfire terrific each-way value at 5/1 – if his temperament holds up

The victory of Was in yesterday’s Investec Oaks at Epsom extended Aidan O’Brien’s utter domination of this year’s English Classics and the market for today’s Derby suggests he’ll bring that tally to four from four courtesy of Newmarket 2000 Guineas winner Camelot.

The suggestion is that the son of Montjeu will improve for a step up in trip. Well, it’s more than just a suggestion, it’s clearly indicated by his style of running and it’s very much part of what his pedigree says.

His sire was a relentless producer of top-class progeny until his premature death earlier this year. But they were almost exclusively middle distance horses and in landing the 2000 Guineas, Camelot became the first son of Montjeu to win a European Group 1 over a mile.

Ridden to come from off the pace, he showed a fine turn of pace to get into contention at Newmarket and he responded generously to Joseph O’Brien’s urgings to beat Group 1 Criterium International winner French Fifteen by a neck — the level of superiority somewhat masked by the official distance.

In theory he should be better today but there’s a half-mile to be negotiated and he’s not absolutely certain to stay.

If indeed, he does improve for the trip, then he’s the one they will have to beat but he’s not that far ahead on ratings — certainly not sufficiently clear to be a 4-6 chance.

Although this isn’t the greatest of renewals of the race, there is scope for an ease in those odds and much of that depends on how one of his rivals, Bonfire, reacts to the extensive preliminaries.

On official figures, the last named has only a couple of pounds to find with the favourite and that comes through form which ties in with French Fifteen.

The latter was runner-up to Camelot in the Guineas, and in winning last season’s Criterium Internationl at Saint Cloud, he had Bonfire back in third. There’s certainly plenty of reason to call Andrew Balding’s colt an unlucky loser on that occasion and, regardless, it suggests there’s little between him and the unbeaten Camelot.

Bonfire made his return in the Dante Stakes at York and while it wasn’t the most satisfactory of races, he was well on top in the finish.

Like the favourite, and perhaps more so, he’s not entirely certain to stay, but the manner in which he ran on to win the Dante gives hope that he will get home here. With no guarantee of a fast pace, there’s a possibility that the race will turn into something akin to yesterday afternoon’s Oaks, in which they went slowly from the start and finished with a real flourish, meaning stamina was not as important a factor in the result as was positioning throughout the race.

But perhaps more importantly he has question marks surrounding his temperament and they should not be underestimated.

He has his quirks and if he boils over in the run up to the race, his Derby will be over before it begins. And given how big a player he is, it’s vital that serious punters watch out for this.

If he’s on edge and threatening to find the occasion all too much, his odds will lengthen. Conversely, if he strolls through unperturbed, reaching the starting stalls in a calm and assured manner then I expect a late plunge for the colt.

It’s not so much that punters expect him to beat Camelot, rather that he is second best on what he has shown to date and that gives him rock-solid each-way claims.

Camelot’s stable companion, Astrology, is likely to draw some each-way support having absolutely trounced three ordinary rivals in the Dee Stakes at Chester on his return.

However, he appeared to have his limitation exposed at Group level last year and there were also some signs that he may not take to pressure being applied.

Perhaps he has matured and improved over the summer, in which case he must be respected, but I would rather look elsewhere.

Thought Worthy has got to be respected. Johh Gosden’s horse is a full brother to former Doncaster St Leger winner Lucarno, who finished fourth behind Authorized in the 2007 Derby.

He was beaten by the astutely ridded Imperial Monarch (stable companion to Camelot) in the Classic Trial at Sandown on his return but showed great battling qualities to land a Listed Race at Newmarket next time.

It was quite evident there that stamina was his strongest suit and, though I can see him battling for a place today, his best chance of Classic glory would appear to lie in a bid to emulate his sibling.

Main Sequence, who carries the Niarchos colours once carried with distinction by the mighty Miesque, is the only other runner with realistic claims of winning today’s Premier Classic but his tendency to flash his tail is off-putting.

That said, it’s hard to argue with a perfect record of four from four and there’s likely more to come.

There is a strong chance that class rather than stamina will be the deciding factor this afternoon and that points directly to a win for Camelot.

However, Bonfire is clear next best on form and provided the day does not get to him, he rates terrific each-way value at 5-1. He may not be up to toppling the favourite but for punters with access to different betting mediums, he makes massive appeal in the place market and also without the favourite.

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