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Monday 18 December 2017

O'Connell: 'Plenty of nerves being on Dunguib in opener'

Brian O'Connell believes Dunguib's previous experience at Cheltenham will stand him in good stead for the Spinal Research Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Philip Fenton's exciting prospect won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Festival last year and is odds-on to take the opening race of the meeting on Tuesday after an unblemished record over hurdles so far this term.

"We're looking forward to it. There'll be plenty of pressure and nerves, I'm sure, but it's good pressure to have," the jockey said.

"All's well with the horse. I rode him out this morning and he was fresh and well.



tactics

"I'm sure we'll discuss tactics closer to the time. We'll walk the track and see how the ground ends up.

"The main thing is to get him into a rhythm and make sure he's happy, more so than anything else.

"He handled it last year and I can't see why he won't handle everything this year.

"He's normally on his toes in the parade ring. He can be very keen at times, but he is relaxing much better and relaxed pretty well in Leopardstown the last day.

"I was more happy and delighted that he relaxed. The fact that he's been to Cheltenham last year is a big plus with a big field.

"He has seen it all -- the parade ring, the crowd and sampled the atmosphere.

"I'm sure the first race on a Tuesday will be more spectacular than the last race on a Wednesday. He's been there and travelled over. He's a year older and more mature as well.

"I'm sure there are plenty of people waiting to see him run and I know some people see him as a banker. It would be great if he could win."

O'Connell won the Bumper on Dunguib as an amateur but has since turned professional.

"To have Dunguib in my first season as a professional is a big help," he added. "It's very competitive and there are some high-class riders out there. To have Dunguib is a big help for me as such."

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