Dunguib ready to Fly
These days it is hard to tell whether you are watching a horse race or a sequence from Battle Of The Bulge.
Harry Findlay long ago nicknamed Denman as “The Tank”, but it is becoming increasingly difficult not to infringe that copyright with Dunguib, whose ruthless performance at Fairyhouse yesterday confirmed him the most formidable recruit to hurdling in many years.
His name already seems to sit comfortably among the many Cheltenham Festival winners who first made their name in the Royal Bond Hurdle. Admittedly Hurricane Fly, who won the race last year, has yet to bridge the gulf dividing even the best novices from open competition.
But it is a measure of Dunguib's prowess that many now reckon he should cut to the chase by taking on Hurricane Fly and company in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle itself.
His trainer, Philip Fenton, is fortunately less excitable and greeted another frightening show of power by indicating that Dunguib would be kept to the company of novices this season. No less prudently, Fenton is also inclined to sit out the big Christmas meeting at Leopardstown, and instead give him one more run in February before the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Though he faced only five rivals yesterday, two had managed to beat everything else when chasing him home in the championship bumpers at Cheltenham and Punchestown respectively. As such, this should have been a tougher test than his two previous starts over timber, but once again Dunguib carted Brian O'Connell into the lead after the second last and required only the most perfunctory encouragement to beat Some Present seven lengths.
The runner-up had lost his place at halfway, while Sweeps Hill was not himself, but all you could ask of Dunguib was to keep those caterpillar tracks rolling.
“I'm very relieved and, I suppose, you'd have to say very impressed as well,” Fenton said. “Apart from being a little free, he seemed in control a long way out, and you'd have to be impressed with his jumping. It's getting better and better and he was excellent over the last two.”
Asked about the Champion, Fenton was pretty emphatic. “Novices should stick to novices,” he said. “There's always next season, if he looked the job in the Supreme.
“It's half in our minds to bypass Christmas, because he's not over-robust and doesn't want a huge amount of racing. We don't want to take one step too many.”
Dunguib, now as short as 6-4 for the Supreme, though William Hill take the view that March remains a long way off and offer 2-1.