It looks very much as though the talented Colour Squadron, a serious contender for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, will be given a very different ride next time out to the tactics employed at Sandown recently where he was ridden prominently and eventually caught in the dying strides of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle, writes Eliot Slater.
Philip Hobbs’ charge looked an unlucky loser at the Esher track where he made most of the running in a race where nothing wanted to go on, and then began to hang markedly to the stands side in the home straight giving away significant ground that resulted in him being caught in the close home by Captain Conan, who raced straight as an arrow down the middle of the track. People looking at the Cheltenham market movers will not have been impressed.
It might very well be the case that Hobbs’ gelding is simply more at home racing left-handed as he had shown no such tendency on his previous racecourse appearances at Newbury and Chepstow, winning his bumper at the South Wales track before failing by just half-a-length on his hurdling bow at Newbury in November, then returning to the Berkshire track three weeks later to impressively account for the decent Montbazon. With Cheltenham horse racing taking place on a left-handed track, punters may seem him back to his best on his next outing.
The Minehead handler thinks a combination of having to make the running and very possibly the roar of the Sandown crowd caused Colour Squadron to veer off course, and he will instruct Richard Johnson to hold his mount up on his next outing which could be in the big race at Cheltenham itself, as no decision has yet been made as to whether or not the son of Old Vic will have a prior outing ahead of the Supreme Novices Hurdle, a race for which the six-year-old is generally on offer at 16/1.