herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Dunguib's a sure thing to take opening race

Supreme Novices' Hurdle

They say in life there will be two certainties -- death and taxes. You can try and delay one and dodge the other, but this week at the Cheltenham Festival there will be no avoiding two more certainties -- Dunguib and Kauto Star.

We will speak more about Kauto Star later in the week, but tomorrow's Festival opener will be one that hopefully can raise the roof over Prestbury Park and half of Gloucestershire too.

Obviously tomorrow is Champion Hurdle day, and the crown of the top 2m hurdler around will be awarded. However, in the opening Spinal Research Supreme Novices Hurdle, Philip Fenton's star in the making, Dunguib, takes on a field of inferior rivals as he bids to bag a second Cheltenham Festival success.

The seven-year-old dropped jaws with his thrilling performance in last season's Champion Bumper here, and while his jumping question marks were probably the main reason behind last week's slight drift in the market, his sheer class and the gears he possesses mean he joins the certainty list with death and taxes.

Let's not forget that this horse was favourite for tomorrow's Champion Hurdle 'with a run' with Paddy Power in case connections had opted to prematurely exit the novice ranks, but rightfully they have stuck to their guns and for that reason they are sure to be rewarded tomorrow.

Of Dunguib's jumping, it was at its most worrying last time in the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, but that was due to a mission to drop him out last and get him settled.

I would suggest he will be taking a much more prominent position tomorrow and at the faster pace that this race will be run, it is only going to play further into the hands of the son of Presenting, and therefore punters should be under no illusions that if you see any 4/5 or even 1/1 flashing up beside Dunguib's name on a bookmaker's board -- get your week's expenses from that generous soul.

Blackstairmountain is put forward as the biggest equine threat to Dunguib not winning the opener but really it will take a biblical act from somebody a lot more powerful to prevent him entering that famous winners' enclosure for a second time.

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