Supreme dream: talented Battalion makes hurdling debut with big target in mind
Battalion, who 12 months ago started favourite for the Winter Derby, has his dress rehearsal for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Southwell on Sunday.
Trained by Jamie Osborne for the enthusiastic Melbourne 10 Racing syndicate, Battalion, who reached a rating of 111 on the Flat, faces 11 rivals in a £6,300 novice hurdle (3.00) under champion jump jockey Richard Johnson, who schooled the eight-year-old on Friday morning.
The Lambourn-based Osborne, whose 11 festival triumphs as a rider included two successes in the Supreme, said: "I am too old to school now. There is only Dickie and Noel Fehily who overlapped my riding career, so we thought we'd go for one of the old boys and he jumped very well for Dickie.
"I hope he can have a new career, but it will all depend how he gets on tomorrow.
"We know he's got plenty of ability, but it's all about confidence and getting him to enjoy himself. To a certain degree his Flat career has been about that. He's a horse with a lot of talent who has marginally underperformed because he's slightly quirky."
Jamie Osborne's 11 festival winners as a rider
Grand Annual (1991)
Champion Chase (1992)
Stayers' Hurdle (1992)
County Hurdle (1992)
Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase (1995)
Battalion, a 100-1 shot for the Supreme, is by Derby winner Authorized, who has been responsible for festival winners Nichols Canyon and Tiger Roll.
Osborne added: "He seems to enjoy his jumping though and it will be fascinating to see how he adapts to it in a race. If all went well, it would be lovely for the owners to have a runner at Cheltenham and stranger things have happened."
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