Tony McCoy rides Colour Squadron at Cheltenham ahead of BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards

Tony McCoy, who will be in Leeds tomorrow evening at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, will be hoping to make the journey north with yet another major success under his belt.

The 18-times champion jockey is in action today at Cheltenham, where his judgement comes firmly under the spotlight.

He had a choice of three horses, owned by his boss JP McManus, in the £100,000 Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup and has opted to ride Colour Squadron over Cantlow and Tap Night.

Trained by Philip Hobbs, whose horses are in dynamic form, Colour Squadron was narrowly beaten by Johns Spirit in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup on the same course and is now set to renew rivalry on 2lb better terms.

Whether it will be enough to turn the tables remains to be seen, but Colour Squadron finished strongly that day after being hampered by a faller at the penultimate fence and there is every chance he can reverse the form now.

Ironically, McCoy, who was unable to make the weight on Colour Squadron in the Paddy Power, will be bidding to put one over on his great ally Jonjo O’Neill, trainer of Johns Spirit, this afternoon.

It is hardly a two-horse race. Cantlow, one of McCoy’s rejects, is not without a chance and nor are Silver Roque, Ma Filleule or Attaglance, trained by Malcolm Jefferson and a good fourth in the Paddy Power.

This Grade 3 showpiece, though, may well end up with McCoy’s name on it before the legendary jockey takes on the likes of Andy Murray, Sir Ben Ainslie and Mo Farah in the final countdown for the coveted Sports Personality of the Year title, which he won in 2010.

The StanJames.com International Hurdle, worth £130,000, is the richest race on the Cheltenham card and presents an opportunity for The New One to further put his stamp on the Champion Hurdle.

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the five-year-old was an outstanding novice last season and the way he won at Kempton on his reappearance was nothing if not impressive. He will be a very tough nut to crack.

Norton trainer Tony Coyle throws Flicka Williams into the big league in the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. The gelding is three-from-three this season and was a Wetherby winner last month. He faces much tougher opposition today, however, and Kings Palace, unbeaten in two starts this season for David Pipe, is preferred.

At Doncaster, Royal Irish Hussar will be a popular choice in the featured BetVictor Summit Juvenile Hurdle.

Formerly trained on the Flat by Aidan O’Brien and now with Nicky Henderson, the three-year-old has completed a hat-trick of wins over hurdles and looks a very talented recruit. He will be hard to beat under David Bass.

A drop in class might enable nap selection Runswick Royal to resume winning ways in the DFS Supports Macmillan Handicap Hurdle, while Keith Reveley’s Kings Grey, a previous course-and-distance winner, gets the vote in the Download The Free BetVictor App Handicap Chase.

Whatever the fate of Colour Squadron at Cheltenham, Hobbs should be among the winners at Doncaster.

The Minehead trainer can score with Carrigmorna King in the BetVictor Handicap Chase.


Racing selections

Cheltenham today 12.10 Vicenzo Mio, 12.40 Le Bec, 1.15 Tanks For That, 1.50 Kings Palace, 2.25 Colour Squadron, 3.00 The New One, 3.35 Salubrious.

Doncaster today 11.55 Fix It Right, 12.25 Silver Eagle, 1.00 Karinga Dancer, 1.35 Runswick Royal (NAP), 2.05 Royal Irish Hussar, 2.40 Kings Grey, 3.15 Carrigmorna King.

Today’s other meetings: Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton.

Tomorrow’s meetings: Carlisle and Southwell.

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