Menorah looks tasty alternative to Fenton hotpot
DUNGUIB continues to shorten in price for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle effectively in absentia -- and the question is: does 6/4 represent a value bet over two months prior to Cheltenham?
Last year's memorably easy Festival bumper winner is three from three this term and skipped Leopardstown this Christmas because Philip Fenton did not want to ask too much of him in the first half of the season. It was a race he surely would have won, but one must be critical of the strength of the Irish novices, him apart.
After destroying a poor field first time out, Dunguib then readily accounted for Puyol (beaten in a maiden hurdle since) at Punchestown. The son of Presenting was then shaken up to beat Some Present by seven lengths in the Royal Bond, with Alice Bradys Call in third. Some Present ran a shocker next time at Leopardstown, while Alice Bradys Call was beaten in a maiden hurdle.
Clearly one is to some degree forced to make a flimsy case against him, but everything has a price and Dunguib seems too short at 6/4 with Cheltenham in mind. He can race freely and has not been flawless over his hurdles, so there are some reasons to look elsewhere.
The main issue with going against him was that nothing among the opposition had form claims of any real substance -- until St Stephen's Day, that is. In trouncing Bellvano, previously a leading Supreme fancy, Menorah emerged as the clear second-best choice for the Festival's opening race. At 12/1, with bookmakers offering a quarter of the odds a place, he can be supported each way.
The son of King's Theatre began his career over here, winning his only bumper at Naas by ten lengths. In his initial two hurdling forays, he tended to expend too much energy early on, ultimately paying the price over two and a half miles at Doncaster when beaten by Bob Ewing.
As a consequence of that reverse, Philip Hobbs' five-year-old was subservient in the betting to the well-touted Bellvano at Kempton, but he left him for dead. The race was run in a good time and Menorah settled better on just his fourth career start. Generally jumping well, the gelding had the race's outcome sealed with two to jump and quickened away to win by ten lengths, eased down.
He seems to have the right blend of stamina and speed to become a very serious foe to Dunguib in the Supreme Novices'. Moreover, the paucity of credible opposition is advertised by Rite Of Passage's place in the betting as third-favourite, Dermot Weld's stayer on the Flat having not even jumped a hurdle yet.
Sound betting is often about going against the fashion. Because they are relatively unheard of, one might forget that Rubin Kazan have won the last two Russian Leagues and are 2/5 to get into the last 16 of the Europa League. They are an eye-catcher outright at 33s (half those odds to reach the decider).
New England, finally, have nothing to play for but can still frustrate Houston in the NFL.
Menorah to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, 1pt e/w at 12/1 (Hills)
Rubin Kazan to win the Europa League, 0.5pt each way at 33/1 (Coral, Ladbrokes)
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Texans to beat Patriots, 3pts at 1.3 (0.9pt liability, Betfair)