News

Old Guard earns place in Stayers' Hurdle for rampant Paul Nicholls

Sun 25 Feb 2018

By Racinguk.com staff

Old Guard booked his ticket for a tilt at the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival after landing the totepool National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.

After getting bogged down in heavy ground at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, the seven-year-old appreciated a return to a quicker surface to claim the second Grade Two win of his career.

His victory was one of eight enjoyed by Paul Nicholls this weekend.

Always in the front rank throughout the two-mile three contest, the 11-4 shot pulled clear with 2016 winner, and favourite Lil Rockerfeller over the third last.

Having bided his time, Harry Cobden moved his mount into the lead on the run to the last before crossing the line a length and a half clear of Lil Rockerfeller.

Paul Nicholls mug shot Nicholls enjoyed a remarkable eight winners this weekend (PA)

Following the race, the winner was cut from 33-1 into 25-1 for the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle with Paddy Power.

Cobden said: "He is a dude. He owes me nothing. I won a Greatwood on him on something like my 10th ride. He is a little star.

"I didn't want to get there too soon. He got there and found it easy. He probably hacked up after then."

Nicholls added: "He is Harry's ride now as Sam is riding The New One in the Stayers' Hurdle.

"The more it was drying out the better as he run a really good race in the International in December. He got in a bit of trouble and Harry was steaming he didn't get any closer.

"The last day I shouldn't have run him as he hates that heavy ground. Today I just told Harry be positive as he will gallop and stay. He will run in the Stayers' now.

"What I liked about today was that he really stayed. It is good to see him perform this year. He just likes good ground and he has been an amazing horse for these guys."

Old Guard was cut to 25-1 from 33-1 for the Stayers' Hurdle with Paddy Power.

Neil King is considering re-fitting the cheekpieces aboard Lil Rockerfeller in the Stayers' Hurdle after feeling that the blinkers failed to have the desired effect.

He said: "He has run a smashing race. The only problem is one finished in front of us. He has done nothing wrong. I don't think the blinkers have done a lot for him to be honest with you.

"If we are OK tomorrow morning, then he will go for the Stayers'. My immediate reaction would be to put the cheekpieces on as I can't see they have sharpened him up at all. He has just run his run his race like he usually does."

THE NICHOLLS WIN MACHINE:

Saturday:

Cyrname (2-5); Mobait (6-1); Favorito Buck's (7-1); Danny Kirwan (13-8).

Sunday:

Copain De Classe (4-6); The Last But One (5-2); Old Guard (11-4); Unioniste (4-11).

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