'Supreme' Dunguib has bookies running scared
THERE was a good atmosphere in the betting ring at Leopardstown on Sunday, with Dunguib obviously the star attraction before he heads off to represent Ireland at Cheltenham.
He may have clipped one or two hurdles along the way but to see him come up the rise after the last with Brian O'Connell almost motionless was breathtaking; and the layers were quick to react by cutting him into 5/6 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Later on, I had to laugh to myself as one seasoned on-course bookmaker tried to pay out winnings to a queue of Spanish students, all of whom had backed Dunguib with €2 each. After handing a couple of them some coppers, he grumpily told the rest of them to "go away and come back after racing" as he tried to get Agus A Vic into the satchel at 4/6 from the bigger punters.
"So much for Irish hospitality," I joked. "Irish hospitality me arse," he said. "I've just done my brains on Joncol, and need to get as much back as I can on this jolly." Business is business -- in fairness, he paid the Spaniards out on Dunguib with a smile on his face when Agus A Vic could only manage third.
So is Dunguib too short for the festival at 5/6? It's hard to say really but let me put it another way: If you think his chances of finding himself in the winners circle after the race are greater than 55pc (as those odds suggest), then you should have a bet. It's as simple as that really and there's no need to over analyse the situation. People have all sorts of rules about not backing below certain odds but value can be found at all ends of the sphere.
Last week wasn't the greatest for this column with Cooldine getting chinned and Free World coming third -- but we're still a few quid in the black for 2010 and I'm hoping to continue to build the Cheltenham betting pot each week as the festival gets ever closer.
Newbury's Totesport Trophy Hurdle is my next port of call (3.05) today and the market for this race has been fascinating, with Paul Nicholls' Takeroc matched as high as 239/1 on the machine ante-post. But when the trainer told punters last Saturday that he could be a good each-way bet, a wholesale gamble ensued for the week which has pushed his price as low as 8/1 in places yesterday.
He has claims of course, and I wouldn't put anyone off backing -- but in my eyes he's just too short and I can't be having him at single-figure odds. My own fancy for the race is the Alan King-trained Manyriverstocross. I was both encouraged and disappointed to read King give an upbeat report about the five-year-old on Wednesday.
Encouraged as the trainer echoed what I had been thinking all week, the disappointment came when his odds got a trimming afterwards. He flopped last time at Newbury but big fields and a strong pace will suit his style and 12/1 still looks like good each-way value with Boylesports.
Of the bigger priced outsiders, I'll have a win and place bet on Nick Gifford's Paschra Bere, currently 80/1 on Betfair. He ran out of steam at Sandown, but today could see an improvement and at these weights, he's entitled to go better than his odds suggest.
Meanwhile, I think we'll see a vast improvement in Ireland's performance as they take on France in Paris today. The reigning Grand Slam champions are good value for the win at 2/1 (Betfair).
The more conservative punter may settle for the even money on offer on Ireland +5.5 points (Boyles). I'm expecting an open game and suggest backing over 38.5 points at 10/11 (totesport) and over 3.5 tries at 11/10 with the same firm. Keith Earls should see a lot of ball and is worth backing for small stakes to score the first try each way at 16/1 (extrabet).
2.15 Warwick -- Long Run
3.00 Lingfield -- Robby Bobby
3.05 Newbury -- Manyriverstocross (each-way)
3.05 Newbury -- Paschra Bere (0.5pt win & 0.5pt place on Betfair)