Cheltenham Festival Stayers Hurdle Ante-Post: Old Guard To Spring Shock at 33/1

Old Guard – 33-1 ( nrnb ) Skybet, Betfair Sportsbook, Betfred and Paddy Power

Trainer Paul Nicholls is unlikely to ever have a staying hurdler as good as Big Buck’s who won this stayer’s crown four years running between 2009 and 2012, in fact the master of Ditcheat has just the one entry in the 2018 Sun Bets sponsored contest, that being the seven-year-old Old Guard. At a best price 50-1 with William Hill or 33-1 ( nrnb ) with Skybet, Betfair Sportsbook, Betfred and Paddy Power the son of Notnowcato may appear something of a long shot but in a wide open contest the gelding may represent excellent value for his shrewd handler.

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Winner of six of his twenty two starts over hurdles Old Guard just lacks the pace to get competitive with the best over the minimum trip since winning the 2m 1f International Hurdle back in 2015 but a victory under top weight over two mile four and a half furlongs at Newbury earlier this season suggests the horse is capable of winning a decent prize over a trip and it may be that the three miles of the Stayers’ Hurdle is just what the horse needs at this stage of his career.

The only time Old Guard has run over the trip was at Cheltenham last January but a seventh place finish behind Unowhatimeanharry should not be taken literally as the horse was right out of form at the time. A much better guide was his close fourth in this season’s International Hurdle behind Champion Hurdle aspirants My Tent Or Yours and Melon, when looking badly in need of a longer trip.

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While the Stayers’ Hurdle looks the logical target for Old Guard the Coral Cup remains a possibility so for that reason the non-run-no-bet proviso is advised prior to running plans being confirmed.

Northern raider Sam Spinner is a worthy favourite at the 9-2 available with Betfair Sportsbook following his Long Walk victory while Irish challenger Supasundae could prove a tough nut to crack based on his narrow defeat at the hands of super mare Apple’s Jade recently but in what looks an open contest it is worth siding with Paul Nicholls charge at a massive price.

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