SAM TWISTON-DAVIES has confirmed he will ride Old Guard over The New One in the William Hill Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
With Noel Fehily taking over on The New One, the move breaks a long and fruitful sequence between Twiston-Davies and the two-time Grade 1 winner, who the rider has ridden exclusively in 21 starts.
Twiston-Davies will fulfil his duties to trainer Paul Nicholls on Old Guard after the Stan James International Hurdle scorer was given a wildcard entry for the Grade 1, for which a final field of five was announced on Wednesday.
Last year’s winner Faugheen, the reigning Champion Hurdle hero, promises to offer strong resistance to all, while Nicky Henderson seeks a seventh success in the race with Hargam and Sign Of A Victory.
Faugheen’s trainer Willie Mullins scratched Arctic Fire and Nichols Canyon, while Dell’ Arca and Melodic Rendezvous were also withdrawn.
The New One is fondly regarded by Twiston-Davies as the horse who put him on the map with his success in the 2013 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The jockey has referred to their successful alliance as a contributing factor to getting the top job with Nicholls last year by giving him big-race exposure and experience.
Twiston-Davies had previously held an agreement to ride The New One, who is trained by his father Nigel and finished fifth in last season’s Champion Hurdle, alongisde his role as stable number one for the champion trainer.
The seven-year-old started this campaign with a workmanlike victory at Kempton in October and missed the International Hurdle with a minor foot problem, while Old Guard has won all three of his races.
Other Grade 1 line-ups
Twiston-Davies and Nicholls will join forces with As De Mee in the preceding race on the card, the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
The David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout was missing from the line-up but his Cheltenham conqueror Native River features alongside Bally Beaufort, Net D’Ecosse, Southfield Royale, Tea For Two and L’Unique.
Racing Post Arkle favourite Douvan will face just three opponents – Ttebbob, Sizing John and Velvet Maker – in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Saturday.