Old Guard – 40-1 Boylesports (Cheltenham Thursday 15th March 3.30 pm)
Having already posted our Cheltenham betting tip advising a value ante-post bet on Old Guard at 66-1 for the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, those odds are looking very attractive now following the seven-year-old’s victory in Fontwell’s National Spirit Hurdle on Sunday afternoon, beating Lil Rockerfeller who found only Nichols Canyon three quarters of a length too good for the stayers’ crown twelve months ago.
Sent off the 11-4 second favourite behind the Neil King-trained 5-2 market leader the pair had the two mile three furlong contest between them from some way out but the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding began to assert his authority in between the last two flights, comfortably holding off the renewed effort of the gutsy Lil Rockerfeller in the closing stages by a length and a half in the hands of Harry Cobden.
The winning jockey clearly has a soft spot for Old Guard, having won an amazing eight times on the son of Notnowcato, and with stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies booked to partner The New One for his father in the Stayers’ Hurdle Cobden is almost certain to get the chance of making it number nine on Thursday 15th March at Prestbury Park.
Beaming with a mixture of pride and satisfaction on unsaddling, Cobden said: “ He is a dude. He owes me nothing. I won a Greatwood on him something like my tenth 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.”
Congratulations to OLD GUARD, ridden by @CobdenHarry as they take the WIN for The National Spirit Hurdle!— Fontwell Park (@FontwellPark) February 25, 2018
a TRIPLE for @PFNicholls!! Amazing!#fontwellraces #NationalSpirit53 pic.twitter.com/UW8zdE6xHo
Confirming the Stayers’ Hurdle the next step for Old Guard, Nicholls explained the gelding’s preference for decent ground, saying: “ 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. 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.”
Cut into 20-1 with Skybet and Betfred for the Stayers’ Hurdle Old Guard can still be backed at 40-1 with Boylesports, a price definitely worth taking for the three mile championship contest.