The obvious ﬂaw in the system is that horses lining up for the richest races will often be dominated by colours horses. It therefore requires a little reﬁnement. First of all, when using the colours system it helps to have a good knowledge of said owners and where their horses do well. Horses in the Magnier colours (or those of Ballydoyle co-owners Michael Tabor or Derrick Smith) have a terriﬁc record in the Derby, for example, while you’d probably want to avoid the royal blue of Godolphin in that great race.
By contrast, the latter’s horses could be proﬁtably followed in races such as the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, or the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at the same venue in the middle of summer. The same holds true for the jumps. JP McManus has the resources to buy some of the best jumps horses money can buy, but backing his colours blind at venues such as Taunton or Plumpton all but guarantees a quick trip to the poorhouse.
Sadly all too many of them are simply not much good, and even the masterful Tony McCoy (his retained jockey) can’t always conjure a silk purse from a sow’s ear. But for those at the top of JP’s pyramid it’s a different matter, particularly at the Cheltenham Festival in races such as the National Hunt Chase.