Paul Nicholls: The verdict on my five Sunday runners at Fontwell
Paul has five runners at Fontwell on Sunday including Old Guard in the National Spirit and the return of Unioniste...
"Old Guard has had a nice little break, and I’ve felt for some time this was an ideal target for him at a track that should play to his strengths."
14:20 - Copain De Classe
With The Unit running at Kempton on Saturday this race run in memory of my old boss Josh Gifford is down to a match between Space Oddity and Copain De Classe.
Josh was a great man to work for and I'd love to win it again.
There wasn't much between Space Oddity and Copain De Classe when they finished second and third behind Benatar at Ascot early in November and there may not be again.
Our horse jumped slickly on his first start over fences that day before leading two out but didn't quite get home over two miles, three furlongs. So dropping back in trip here should be in his favour.
Copain De Classe is fresh and well and must have a good chance on this drying ground.
14:50 - The Last But One
Is progressing steadily and surprised me a bit last time by winning comfortably at Musselburgh where he made all the running, was left clear two out and was keeping on at the finish.
He was raised 4lbs by the handicapper for that which seems fair enough. A repeat of that performance would put him right in the mix here.
15:20 - Old Guard
Has had a fine season since a wind op in the summer and looks a leading player here ahead of his challenge for the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He has ran well the last twice at Cheltenham on ground that was too heavy for him, most recently finishing a creditable fourth to Wholestone, and should be in the frame again on this drying ground which he will appreciate.
Old Guard has had a nice little break, and I've felt for some time this was an ideal target for him at a track that should play to his strengths.
16:25 - Unioniste
It's good to see enthusiastic owner rider David Maxwell back from injury to partner his own horse Unioniste in this which should set them up nicely for the Foxhunters' Chase at Cheltenham.
David was on the sidelines with broken ribs when Unioniste hacked up at Wincanton twenty four days ago. This looks the perfect race for him to gain more experience on the horse who should be hard to beat on current ratings.
17:25 - Southfield Torr
He has a useful pedigree being a half brother to Southfield Theatre and Southfield Vic, but he has been very backward and has taken time to come to himself.
While he is ready to go now I am not expecting fireworks from him at Fontwell and I'd say he is bound to improve a fair bit for the outing.