13:30 Cheltenham – Colour Squadron to win Supreme Novices’
The Irish have tended to dominate the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in the past, but Colour Squadron looks capable of upsetting their strong batch of entries this year at 14/1.
Ireland have won eight of the last 13 runnings of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and are well represented again to extend their successful streak.
However, negatives can be thrown at all of their entrants.
Steps To Freedom appears to be the leading Irish challenger at 6/1 in the Cheltenham odds and has the bumper form and a winning record to make him a major player.
The problem is that his victories have not been franked since and although he may prove a horse that always just does enough to win, he is worth opposing.
Davy Russell’s decision to ride Trifolium over Midnight Game is a major boost for the former, but although he has been mightily impressive with wins in Ireland, there is the concern that he will find little of the bridle when asked a question up the Cheltenham hill.
He could be one for each-way punters though at 10/1.
Galileo’s Choice is another at 6/1 and looked a class act on the Flat, but his lack of hurdling experience may find him out, especially in a race with 19 runners.
Of the leading English hopes, many have the same concerns as Trifolium in that they are likely to be travelling strongly on the cusp of the lead, only then to fail to quicken up the Cheltenham hill.
This is true of 5/1 favourite Darlan, who seemingly suits flatter tracks than Cheltenham, and Montbazon at 6/1.
The two challengers it could pay to narrow the field down to are Tetlami at 12/1 and he has done nothing wrong with three straight victories since returning from injury.
Tetlami should also appreciate the ground and has Barry Geraghty on board.
But Colour Squadron could edge proceedings and finally claim the Grade One victory he has been threatening all season.
Colour Squadron looks a largely similar runner to Philip Hobbs’ 2010 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Menorah and Richard Johnson may decide to attempt a similar ride, stalking the leaders around the inside.
The horse has twice seemingly thrown away victories this season and could make it third time lucky at Cheltenham, particularly as he seems to possess greater battling qualities than his leading rivals in the betting.