Dunguib back in winner’s circle at Navan
Injury-plagued former Champion Bumper hero back to the track after three years
Brian O’Connell and Dunguib back in the winner’s circle. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Dunguib recorded a heartwarming victory as he returned to the winner’s enclosure almost three years to the day since his last success with an authoritative triumph in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Philip Fenton has done a wonderful job getting the injury-plagued former Champion Bumper hero back to the track, and the 11-year-old showed he retained plenty of ability when third on his comeback at Naas last month on what was his first run since the 2011 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
He had clearly come forward from that in this Grade Two assignment, moving powerfully towards the rear of the four-runner field through the early stages before taking closer order passing the stands.
Jumping the sixth from home in front, Brian O’Connell never really had an anxious moment from there, with 5-4 favourite Zaidpour being cajoled a long way out by Ruby Walsh.
The 11-4 chance jumped the last couple of hurdles well in charge and coasted home from Zaidpour, who consented to run on late.
Fenton said: “That was lovely, it was a grand performance. He’s not getting any younger, but he looked his old self. We were fairly confident we might be good enough.
“He was getting a little bit tired from the last, but we’d be hoping he’d improve from it.
“It’s great to get a good horse back.
“There’s a good chance he’ll go (to Cheltenham). We’ll see what the handicapper does, we could look at the County Hurdle or the Coral Cup, he got the trip (two-mile-five) well enough today.
“He jumped better today, often he can be a bit casual.”
Fenton has performed similar wonders with Last Instalment, and reported the Irish Hennessy winner to be in good form and on track for Cheltenham.
He said: “Last Instalment is good, everything is fine with him.
“Let’s hope it stays raining. If it was good to soft it would be fine for him. He is a good-actioned horse but because of his history I’d like it on the slow side.
“Any race would be fine for me but I’m sure it will be the Gold Cup, it looks like the other horse (First Lieutenant, also owned by Gigginstown House Stud) might go in the other direction (Ryanair Chase).”