Horses To Follow » Colour Squadron

Colour Squadron

The general feeling seemed to be that Montbazon had Colour Squadron’s measure when Colour Squadron fell at the second last flight in the novices’ hurdle at Newbury on Friday, but I’m not so sure.

Vulcanite had taken them along at a decent clip, with Richard Johnson happy to take a lead on Colour Squadron, in contrast to how he has ridden the horse on his two previous runs. He travelled perhaps a little better than Montbazon to the third last, he looked to be going sweetly the whole way, and he jumped the third last, the first in the home straight, quicker than Alan King’s horse, emerging as the most likely winner as he bore down on Vulcanite between the third last and the second last flights. However, Richard Johnson appeared quite anxious not to hit the front too soon, the horse had hung to his left quite badly at Sandown in the Tolworth Hurdle and there is plenty of room to hang left off the hurdles track at Newbury on the run-in, despite the fact that it is a left-handed track. The horse just wasn’t on a great stride at the obstacle, and rather stepped over the flight and came down.

Montbazon did run on strongly through the final furlong to draw seven lengths clear of the undoubtedly useful prospect and 103-rated Flat horse Vulcanite, but it is far from certain that he would have beaten Colour Squadron. Philip Hobbs’s horse had, after all, battled on well to beat Montbazon by a length at Newbury earlier in the season on the same terms as these, and he had almost got back up to land the Grade 1 Tolworth having given away a lot of ground by hanging after the final hurdle. That was Montbazon’s hurdling debut when the pair met in December, but he had had four runs in bumpers (including one this season), in contrast to Colour Squadron’s one bumper and one maiden hurdle. On top of that, Philip Hobbs’s yard is going through a bit of a quiet spell at the moment, by the start of racing on Wednesday morning he had yet to have a winner from 29 runners since racing returned from the cold snap, in contrast to Alan King who doesn’t seem to have been held up much, if at all, by the weather.

All in all then, there shouldn’t really be anything between Montbazon and Colour Squadron in the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and the fact that Colour Squadron is available at 16/1, while Montbazon is not better than 12/1 (and 7/1 in a place), makes him the more interesting of the pair.

17th February 2012