Racing tips: Old Guard should not be written off

Fontwell Park racecourse
Fontwell Park racecourse
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Old Guard can spearhead a fruitful day of action for Paul Nicholls at Fontwell.

The seven-year-old lines up in the totepool National Spirit Hurdle and a decent effort in this Grade Two event over two miles and three furlongs will surely see his price for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham contract.

Old Guard has certainly not been running badly this season, winning twice in six starts, including at Listed level at Kempton back in October.

However, he seems to be at his best when conditions are not too testing, so it was to his credit he managed to finish fourth behind Wholestone in the Relkeel at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Incredibly versatile in terms of trip, Old Guard is favoured by the conditions of the race and can take full advantage.

Copain De Classe has all the hallmarks of another Ditcheat winner in the opening toteplacepot Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase.

Unioniste can round out Nicholls’ treble in the totepool Betting At totesport.com Open Hunters’ Chase.

Unioniste bounced back from a shock defeat on his debut in this sphere to win at Wincanton last time and it could be tough to beat him again with his confidence now bolstered.

Battalion is a fascinating newcomer to the National Hunt division in the grandnational.fans Novices’ Hurdle at Southwell.

A familiar name on the all-weather circuit, he boasts a Flat rating of 101 which certainly makes him of interest if Jamie Osborne can get him to negotiate the obstacles safely.

Another day of graded action in Ireland and Doctor Phoenix can lift the Paddy’s Rewards Chase for Gordon Elliott after his recent return to form.

He was a wide-margin winner of the Dan Moore Chase after disappointing previously.

Selections:

Naas: 1.40 Chip Shot, 2.10 Contingency, 2.40 Fitzhenry, 3.10 Discorama, 3.45 Doctor Phoenix, 4.15 Mick The Boyo, 4.45 Oscar Lantern, 5.15 Invincible Cave

Fontwell: 2.20 Copain De Classe, 2.50 Stoical Patient, 3.20 OLD GUARD (NAP), 3.55 Darcy Ward, 4.25 Unioniste, 4.55 Ding Ding, 5.25 Black Lightning.

Southwell: 2.00 Ulis De Vassy, 2.30 St Merryn, 3.00 Battalion, 3.35 Jaunty Flyer, 4.05 Hurricane Rita, 4.35 Tara Mac, 5.05 Strike In Milan.