Dunguib juggernaut gathers pace

Top Irish novice appears future Champion Hurdler in crushing Fairyhouse win

These days it is hard to tell if you are watching a horserace or a sequence from Battle Of The Bulge. Harry Findlay long ago nicknamed Denman "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 Dunguib 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 by 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 is 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.

A card salvaged from Sunday's deluges also featured two other Grade One races. Noel Meade has long viewed Pandorama as potentially top-class over fences and, while the grey had only scrambled home in his first steeplechase at Punchestown last month, he landed a gamble in the Drinmore Novice Chase. Once again he jumped left, but that would be less of an issue at Cheltenham and he certainly warrants consideration for the RSA Chase at 14-1 with Ladbrokes.

Though falls for Whatuthink and Roberto Goldback simplified his task, Pandorama closed down Alpha Ridge readily before seeing him off by seven lengths, the pair miles clear. He jumped very well, and significantly retains the right to progress again when his stamina is tested. "He'll be better over three miles," Meade assented. "And you'd have to think he might be better going left-handed. At Punchestown he was up there in front, went left at the first one, and suddenly he was going down every fence and getting worse and worse. He got a lead this time and was totally different. Hopefully, Leopardstown over Christmas will be next. He goes on goodish ground, but I wouldn't like to run him on quick ground."

Two and a half miles also looked a minimum for Oscar Dan Dan when he bravely ran down Ninetieth Minute in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle. "He's come back a different horse this year," Tom Mullins, his trainer, said. "We'll look at the big staying races, and though Big Buck's won't be shivering in his boots, maybe he'll be able to hold his own."

Another top Irish jumper, Captain Cee Bee, makes his chasing debut at Naas today. He beat Binocular in the Supreme Novices' but was pulled up on his next start and has not been seen for 607 days. Little wonder some people are in such a hurry with Dunguib.

Turf account: Chris McGrath


Fabalu (2.25 Market Rasen) A useful staying novice over timber last season, he took to fences with the flair of a former point-to-point winner until tiring on his reappearance at Kelso, and his stable remains in excellent form.

Next best

Prohibition (6.15 Wolverhampton) Absent for over a year since a maiden success at Nottingham, and William Haggas will presumably only have persevered with him in the belief that he can be competitive off this rating.

One to watch

Jass (K G Reveley) was a disappointing favourite for the Eider Chase as a novice but some such prize looks guaranteed this year, to judge by the way he finished for fourth after losing his position at Newcastle last Saturday.

Where the money's going

Progressive handicapper Fix The Rib is 16-1 from 25-1 with Paddy Power for the Keith Prowse Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday.

football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss