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Dunguib easing towards Naas return

Dunguib still has the Champion Hurdle as his target even though the big freeze has delayed his preparation.

Trainer Philip Fenton would like to give the eight-year-old his first appearance of the winter in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on January 15, although he admits it might come too soon.

"He's in great form. We took him to Leopardstown on Thursday. He went two miles round there and did a nice sensible gallop," Fenton told At The Races.

"He's on track, but we're not sure if he's ready for the Limestone Lad Hurdle as we got delayed a bit by the weather.

"He's been on the go for quite a while but even so he could have done with a racecourse gallop possibly three weeks ago rather than last Thursday. We got delayed by the snow and it was pretty frosty with temperatures down to minus 10C and 11C.

"We lost a bit of headway even though he was exercising and we've not missed a day. All we were doing was breaking the trot and cantering, but that's all.

"We'll have to get the results before we can look at the Champion Hurdle. It depends on his performance on his way whether we go for that. It was the target at the start of year and as long as he does himself justice, the Champion Hurdle is still the target."

Dunguib, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner in 2009, was only third when odds-on for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at last season's Festival, but subsequent events have shown his run was better than first thought.

Fenton went on: "The form is working out pretty well with Oscar Whisky (fourth) winning on Saturday, and Menorah (winner) couldn't have advertised it any better. The form is holding up very well.

"The Limestone Lad Hurdle is two miles three and Cheltenham would be a tough two miles, and I'm sure it's the equivalent of two and a half miles any place else. If it so happens we have to step him up in trip we will go in that direction."

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