Methinks Mr Fenton Doth Protest Too Much!
I'm not one for conspiracy theories as a rule, but I can't be the only person in the racing game beginning to wonder if there is a serious game of smoke and mirrors going on regarding the participation (or otherwise) of Dunguib in the Champion Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.
Dunguib looks a very serious racehorse. The Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival appears completely at his mercy - his ante-post price of a general 5/4 and 9/1 bar make that clear - but the temptation to go for the 'big one' must be getting almost unbearable for connections. Not least because there are no outstanding candidates at this stage in a wide open Champion Hurdle field.
Writing in his online blog, trainer Philip Fenton has stated that he stills intends Dunguib to run in the Supreme Novices', but that he is keeping his options open should the Champion Hurdle lose one or two of the major contenders.
There is absolutely no doubt that Fenton is doing the right thing. Why should he limit the options of such a talented horse? Furthermore, there is no reason whatsoever why he should be sharing his innermost thoughts (or those of Dunguib's owners) with those of us who don't pay the monthly training fees.
Such is the respect in which Dunguib is held in Ireland that some are quoting Dunguib as 4/1 favourite for the Champion Hurdle, ahead of Zaynar, Solwhit and Go Native.
On offer with Ladbrokes at attempting 16/1 for the Champion Hurdle, Dunguib, who recently streaked away with last year's Festival Bumper and routed his rivals in a Grade 1 novices' event at Fairyhouse , is a potential superstar.
If I were Mr Fenton, I'd be trotting out similar lines in public, but in private I'd find the temptation to go for the biggest prize of all irresistible.
Meanwhile, Kauto Star and Denman, two of the most respected race horses in recent times, are dominating this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.
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