Captain Conan takes a hurdle as he heads to a win on his first British startPICTURE: Martin Lynch
Captain Conan seizes win in shadow of the post
Report: Sandown, Saturday
32Red Hurdle (Novices' Hurdle) (Registered as the Tolworth Hurdle) (Grade 1) 2m½f, 4yo+
CAPTAIN CONAN defied a big drift in the market to win the Tolworth with a late lunge, ultimately owing his victory to Colour Squadron's inability to keep straight on the run-in.
Prospect Wells failed to fire for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh as Colour Squadron acted the reluctant pied piper, leading the five-strong field at what looked a fairly moderate pace.
The Philip Hobbs-trained leader easily saw off all bar Captain Conan, and would likely have beaten that one too if not for swerving violently left after the final jump, a loss of ground that proved decisive at the post, where Nicky Henderson's Captain Conan was the victor by just a short head.
Winning jockey Barry Geraghty said: "Some company would certainly help this one as well. He was very green and there'll certainly be improvement."
Sarah Hobbs, wife of Colour Squadron's trainer Philip, marked the race down as one that got away. "Richard [Johnson] said basically it was greeness, and you are there to be shot at when you make it. He has thrown it away really," she said.
Captain Conan's own lack of experience - this was his first start on British soil - was perhaps a contributory factor in the alarming drift his price went on in the minutes leading up to the race.
He was sent off at 9-1 after generally being available at 7-2 in the morning.
William Hill make Captain Conan just 10-1 for the Supreme Novices', buthe is as big as 16-1 with Totesport and Betfred. Colour Squadron, Tolworth 11-8 joint-favourite with Prospect Wells, is generally 16-1 for the Supreme, while his fellow favourite is 25-1.