Doubts thrive over bankers
It's not the best year for an Irish banker in the opening race at Cheltenham next month. Especially when the horse in question jumps like Dunguib.
To many who will cross the Irish Sea, Dunguib is a make-or-break deal. Victory would bankroll the entire Festival, defeat will dispatch them straight to the next ferry without so much as loose change for a game of cards.
Fair play to Philip Fenton, who has put four runs over hurdles into his totemic horse. Dunguib will be more experienced than several English runners in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, yet his hurdling technique remains flawed.
In normal circumstances a round like the one Dunguib delivered in heavy ground on Sunday would irredeemably compromise him against 20 rivals going flat-out on a decent surface. Yet Dunguib is no ordinary horse. It's hard to know which way to incline, yet the conundrum surrounding Dunguib is replicated in so many Cheltenham fancies after a weather-truncated season.
Punchestowns showed last Saturday that lightly-raced novices are prone to wholesale blunders. Although the RSA Chase favourite did well to recover from his to win at Sandown on Saturday, a similar mistake at Cheltenham would be calamitous. Likewise Captain Cee Bee, the Irish Independent Arkle Chase favourite which jumped sketchily in winning at Naas last Saturday.
Each of Dunguib, Punchestowns and Captain Cee Bee would probably win at Cheltenham with a clean round of jumping. As for which of them will deliver it, we remain totally in the dark.